Glasgow & West Scotland

Margaret Fleming trial: Accused 'met missing woman in London'

Margaret Fleming
Image caption Margaret Fleming was reported missing in October 2016

A murder accused told police he had met missing Margaret Fleming in London 10 days before being charged in 2017.

Detectives searching for Margaret travelled to London following a police interview with Edward Cairney, from Inverkip.

But the High Court in Glasgow heard that CCTV from areas allegedly named by Mr Cairney showed no sign of her.

Mr Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 58, deny murdering Margaret Fleming between December 1999 and January 2000.

Margaret has allegedly not been seen for more than 19 years.

The court heard a major police investigation was sparked on 28 October 2016, after a benefits claim submitted by Ms Jones on Margaret's behalf raised concerns about her wellbeing.

Det Sgt Scott Carson told the court he and Det Con Andrew Haggerty travelled to London in November 2017 to search for CCTV footage.

'Walking with sticks'

They looked at CCTV images from the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, from 16 October 2017, and did not see Margaret.

The only footage found of Mr Cairney was him walking with the aid of two sticks along Tottenham Court Road towards the Metrobank and back again.

Mr Cairney was interviewed by police on 26 October 2017 prior to being charged with murder and told them he had met and spoken to Margaret 10 days earlier.

Both police officers said they were told that during his 10-hour interview Mr Cairney had said he had seen Margaret in Tottenham Court Road and she had been in Starbucks at Centrepoint.

But the jury was shown a copy of his interview in which Mr Cairney said that Margaret had been at the cafe on 4 November 2016, and spoke of seeing her on 16 October 2017 while he was walking along Charing Cross Road.

Neither officer had read or listened to that part of Mr Cairney's interview prior to going to London and were acting on instruction from the senior investigating officer at the time, DCI Grant McLeod.

Det Sgt Carson said that no CCTV footage had been obtained from Charing Cross Road, and he was unable to name the premises he had visited other than saying a coffee shop and a juice bar.

'Running out of time'

He was asked by defence QC Thomas Ross, representing Cairney: "You are quite sure about this?" and replied: "We were running out of time. We did the best we could under the circumstances."

His colleague Det Con Haggerty was asked by Mr Ross: "What did you do in Charing Cross Road?" He replied: "Just a trawl down to see what cameras, but there was nothing there."

Mr Ross then said: "Any suggestion you didn't look in Charing Cross Road for CCTV cameras?" DC Haggerty replied: "No."

The QC said to Det Con Haggerty: "You didn't have a 100% record of his movements," and the detective replied: "That's correct."

Mr Cairney and Ms Jones are accused of defrauding £182,000 in benefits and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by claiming Margaret was alive.

They deny all the charges against them.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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