A RENOWNED criminal profiler is to study a series of Scottish murders from the 1970s for alleged links to the acquitted World's End suspect Angus Sinclair.
The American expert has been called in as a man serving a life sentence for one of the killings attempts to convince the Court of Criminal Appeal that his conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation report – commissioned during a cold-case review by Scottish police forces – has suggested that the series of murders could have been committed by the same person.
Yesterday, Frank Mulholland, QC, the Solicitor-General for Scotland, told the court that Brent E Turvey, a forensic profiler from Alaska, had been asked for a report.
"It would appear Mr Turvey is a world-renowned expert on these matters," said Mr Mulholland, adding that it was important the court should be provided with as much information as possible in hearing the appeal by Thomas Young, 75.
Young is seeking to overturn his conviction for the murder of Frances Barker, 37, a bakery worker, who was last seen alive in the early hours of 11 June, 1977. Her body was found 16 days later in undergrowth near a road leading to Inchneuk Farm, Glenboig, Lanarkshire.
In October of that year, Young, a lorry driver, described as "a violent sexual inadequate", denied the murder and stood trial, and was found guilty by a jury that deliberated for only an hour.
He received a life sentence and was ordered to serve a minimum of 25 years in prison. He remains behind bars.
In 2004, a cold-case review, named Operation Trinity, was carried out into a number of murders, which included the deaths of six women over a seven-month period in 1977.
The cases examined included Ms Barker's death, and the World's End case in Edinburgh, so named because the two victims, Helen Scott and Christine Eadie, had been killed after a night out at the World's End pub in the Royal Mile.
The review, which considered new DNA evidence, led to the trial in 2007 of Sinclair, 64, who was accused of murdering Ms Scott and Ms Eadie while acting with Gordon Hamilton, his brother-in-law, now deceased.
The trial collapsed when the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence against Sinclair. He was already serving two life sentences, for rape and murder.
Following the World's End case, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates possible miscarriages of justice, asked the Court of Criminal Appeal to examine Young's conviction.
His lawyers maintain there is evidence that the murder of Ms Barker "may have been committed by Angus Sinclair and/or Gordon Hamilton".
As part of the Operation Trinity investigation, a report had been commissioned from the FBI's behavioural analysis unit. It examined the circumstances of the murders and concluded that the same offender was responsible for all six.
A re-examination of the findings of the post-mortem examinations of the six women found "common characteristics" in the methods used to bind, restrain and kill them. Young had been in prison at the time of five of the murders.
A date has still to be fixed for his appeal, but at yesterday's hearing to check on progress in the case, Mr Mulholland said that Mr Turvey would come to Scotland to speak to the relevant investigating police officers, and he would also need to read up on the murder inquiries.
"There is a huge amount of material for him to consider," said Mr Mulholland.
He expected Mr Turvey to report at the end of June, and his findings would be disclosed to Young's defence team.
Expert witness in death penalty cases
BRENT Turvey is a graduate in forensic science, psychology and history from the University of New Haven, Connecticut, and Portland State University, Oregon.
The profiler has been involved in a number of cases worldwide and says most of his work "has focused on the examination and interpretation of physical and behavioural evidence".
He is secretary of the Academy of Behavioural Profiling and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Behavioural Profiling.
He has affiliations with Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, and Oklahoma City University.
He has lectured in several countries, including China. Mr Turvey has published several works, including Criminal Profiling: An introduction to behavioural evidence analysis, Rape Investigation Handbook, Crime Reconstruction, and Forensic Victimology.
Sometimes regarded as a controversial individual, the behavioural expert was once quoted as saying that people either really liked or disliked him.
Mr Turvey is said to have testified in more death penalty cases than any other expert witness.