20 years in jail for killer who burned victim's body

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A MAN who murdered a teenager and set her body on fire has been handed a life sentence.

A judge told hand-cuffed Robert Bayne he must serve at least 20 years for killing 17-year-old Zoe Nelson, adding: "This was an appalling crime, the circumstances of which are properly to be described as shocking."

When the jury returned their verdicts at the end of an earlier trial, Bayne began screaming abuse and threatening Miss Nelson's sister - the key witness against him.

Terrified Laura Anne Nelson fled in tears as body builder Bayne, 21, wrestled with security guards and police at the High Court in Edinburgh - head- butting one.

When Bayne returned to the High Court in Edinburgh to be sentenced yesterday, he apologised for his outburst, through defence QC Neil Murray.

But there was no apology for the murder of student Zoe last May.

The details of Miss Nelson's final minutes remain shrouded in mystery and the cause of death is officially "unascertained".

The jury deleted from the murder charge an allegation that a knife had been used and an allegation that Bayne showed the charred body to Laura Anne Nelson and confessed.

The jury also decided that the fire had been used in an attempt to cover up evidence, not to kill.

Miss Nelson, who was studying panel beating at Motherwell College, was said to have been going out with Bayne.

But the trial heard he had also been seeing her younger sister.

Bayne, the right half of his face decorated with a tribal-style tattoo, was described as a jealous control freak who showered three times a day because he was obsessed with keeping clean.

Bayne was also convicted, unanimously, of attempting to cover up the crime by setting fire to Zoe in woodland on the edge of Wishaw, Lanarkshire. Judge Lady Dorrian imposed a six year concurrent sentence.

As the Nelson family left court, Zoe's aunt, Shirley Nelson, 35, said they were disappointed by the 20 year minimum sentence.

She said: "A life should mean a life. We should bring back hanging. Now this is over, as a family, we would like to thank everyone for the help and support that has been given to us all. We have to come to terms with the fact that we will never see Zoe again as her life was cut short at the evil hands of Robert Bayne."

Yesterday Mr Murray told judge Lady Dorrian: "I am specifically instructed to apologise for the egregious conduct indulged in by Bayne."

The lawyer said that before the trial schizophrenic Bayne had been examined by psychiatrists and psychologists adding: "Nothing I say with regard to these matters should be taken as in any way diminishing the gravity of what he did."

Mr Murray went on to relate how a "hellish up-bringing" had begun at birth with a difficult delivery which had left Bayne with physical problems. At the age of eight he had been diagnosed with ADHA and had a low IQ.

"That, of course, does not excuse what happened," he added.

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