Mary McLaughlin: Jury urged to convict man accused of 1984 murder

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Mary McLaughlin
Image caption,
Mary McLaughlin was found dead in her Partick flat on 2 October 1984

A prosecutor has urged a jury to convict a man of murdering a mother-of-11 more than 36 years ago.

The body of Mary McLaughlin, 58, was discovered in her flat in Partick, Glasgow, on 2 October 1984.

Graham McGill, 59, denies the murder and assaulting Ms McLaughlin with intent to rape.

In his closing speech to the jury at the High Court in Glasgow, prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said the crime was sexually motivated.

Mr Prentice said: "Mary McLaughlin was someone who was friendly and trusting and I would suggest that ultimately brought about her death.

"She trusted whoever was in her flat on September 26, 1984."

The prosecutor recalled Ms McLaughlin was found with her dress on the wrong way round while her bra was discovered outside.

Mr Prentice added: "The brutal attack on her indicates force."

Mr McGill did not give evidence, but his defence team read out a statement from a former neighbour of Ms McLaughlin.

Isobel Barnes, who has since died, told police in October 1984 that she saw a man in Mary's flat four or five days before she died.

The witness told officers that the man, who she described as in his 20s or 30s, was sitting on a couch.

A woman, who she thought was Mary but whose face she could not make out, was standing behind him.

Referring to the statement, Mr Prentice said: "There is no evidence as to who this person was. Mary McLaughlin being a trusting person and friendly person, she often invited people back."

He added: "She was someone who would go out and meet people and seek a little happiness in her life and that inevitably led to people going back to her flat."

'Time capsule'

Mr Prentice said that forensic scientists had opened "a time capsule" back to 1984 when one of the knots on the ligature wound tightly round Ms McLaughlin's neck was recently opened and DNA matching that of McGill's was found.

He added that DNA attributed to McGill was also found on a cigarette butt, as well as Ms McLaughlin's dress and her bra found outside.

Mr Prentice said: "Semen found on her dress suggests a sexual encounter of some sort and Mary McLaughlin was killed in the late part of 26 September 1984 into 27 September 1984. You can conclude that she was murdered by a ligature tied round her neck."

The prosecutor told the jury that there was also the evidence of Mr McGill's ex-wife, Suzanne Russell, who claimed he told her he had murdered a woman after meeting her in a pub and going home with her her.

Mr Prentice added: "The only just verdict in this case is a verdict of guilty."

Earlier, Mr Prentice withdrew two charges against Mr McGill of stealing a set of keys and threatening his ex-wife, leaving only the murder charge for the jury to consider.

'Circumstantial evidence'

In her closing speech, defence counsel Sarah Livingstone told jurors there was no doubt Ms McLaughlin was murdered but says they were being asked to speculate about who is responsible.

Ms Livingstone said the Crown produced "absolutely no eyewitnesses" and presented a case based on circumstantial evidence.

She also urged the jury not to rely on the forensic evidence, which found a match for Mr McGill's profile on a knot of the ligature tied around Ms McLaughlin's neck.

Ms Livingstone added: "DNA is not a magic solution to solve a crime, no matter how much the prosecution want it to be.

"You don't have to touch anything for your DNA to be on it. It can be put on to items by secondary transfer."

'Distinctive scar'

The defence counsel said that Ms McLaughlin led a chaotic lifestyle which meant "she may have exposed herself to dangers".

She also asked the jurors to consider why a taxi driver who saw a man following Ms McLaughlin did not mention a scar when describing him.

Ms Livingstone said: "Graham McGill has a distinctive scar from one ear down to his chin."

She added the reason for the omission was that it wasn't her client who was "stalking" Ms McLaughlin on the night she died.

Ms Livingstone added: "You cannot be satisfied that the person who is responsible for the brutal, horrendous murder of Mary McLaughlin was Graham McGill."

The judge, Lord Burns, is expected to give his charge to the jury on Friday and the jury will then retire to consider its verdict.

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