Lynda Spence: Pair sentenced to life for murder

Lynda Spence. Picture: PA
Lynda Spence. Picture: PA
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THE parents of Lynda Spence said yesterday that they “cannot begin to understand or forgive” two men found guilty of abducting, torturing and murdering her.

• Colin Coats and Philip Wade found guilty abducting, torturing and killing Lynda Spence

• Ms Spence’s remains have never been found and defence lawyers argued that the Crown failed to prove she is even dead

Colin Coats and Philip Wade, both 42, were convicted of the sadistic killing, following an 11-week trial and five days of jury deliberations.

They taped the 27-year-old financial adviser to a chair and assaulted her every day for almost two weeks before killing her. She was burned with an iron and hit with a golf club. They crushed her toes, cut off her thumb and severed her pinkie finger.

Both murderers were sentenced to life. Coats must serve 33 years and Wade 30.

David Parker and Paul Smith, who had originally been charged with murder, previously pled guilty to the reduced charge of holding Ms Spence against her will and assaulting her. Parker, 38, and Smith, 47, were sentenced to 11 years three months, and 11 years respectively yesterday. The judge, Lord Pentland, described their actions as “despicable and cowardly”.

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Turning to Coats, he said: “From the extensive evidence, I am left in no doubt you were the more dominant actor. You were the prime mover behind the abduction, torture and murder of Lynda Spence.

“I am convinced you have a devious and cruel personality. In my considered view, you are a ruthless and dangerous man.”

For James and Patricia Spence, it was justice at last, almost two years after their daughter went missing. Her body has never been found. Speaking afterwards they said: “There is no verdict that will bring our daughter Lynda back or spare her the terrible ordeal that took her life.

“We will never begin to imagine her suffering or comprehend the cruelty of any person who would do that to another human being.

“We cannot begin to understand or forgive what they did to our daughter Lynda. No words can begin to describe the heartache and pain we are suffering.”

They added: “Lynda was a warm, kind and thoughtful daughter. We miss her so much.”

Coats and Wade forced Ms Spence into a car in Broomhill Path, Glasgow, on 14 April, 2011, and drove her to Parker’s flat in West Kilbride, Ayrshire.

Wade carried in a tool bag which was referred to during the trial as “the torture kit”, containing garden loppers, surgical tape and vinyl gloves.

They whisked the woman upstairs to the attic and taped her to a leather chair by the arms and waist. In the days that followed, the two men would arrive every day to hurt her and try to extract financial information.

Parker told how he originally believed the arrangement was to help somebody that needed to get out of Glasgow, but as the situation “snowballed” he could see no way out of it.

Ms Spence was not allowed to move from the chair for the 13 days she was held, and had to sit in her own waste.

On 27 April, 2011, Parker and Smith were dismissed by Coats and Wade, who told them: “Yous [sic] can go.”

In a bid to cover up the killing, Coats and Wade ordered a clean-up of Parker’s flat. It was scrubbed with bleach, while furniture, crockery and bedding was removed and floorboards and carpets ripped up and replaced.

During the trial, the court heard how Ms Spence and Coats were involved in a land deal at Stansted Airport, in which Coats claimed to have invested all of his money.

Wade was described as his “right-hand man” in the killing and later told a friend, Pamela Pearson, that he helped dispose of a woman’s body.

Outside court, Detective Superintendent Alan Buchanan, who led the investigation, said: “Police Scotland is pleased that the persons responsible for the abduction and horrific murder of Lynda Spence have been brought to justice.

“I hope in some small way this will bring some satisfaction to Lynda’s parents.

“Although satisfied with the verdict, the pain for the Spence family continues, as due to the actions of the accused, Mr and Mrs Spence have been unable to lay their daughter to rest.

“At this time I would appeal for those convicted to show some common decency and tell us where Lynda is in order that we can get her back to her parents and allow them to grieve properly and move some way towards rebuilding their lives.”

The jury of six men and seven women took about 20 hours over five days to come to their verdicts.

They unanimously found Coats guilty of murdering Ms Spence, as well as disposing of her body. Wade was also convicted of both charges, but he was cleared of cutting off the missing woman’s head.

Coats, from Glasgow, was further found guilty of three other charges relating to threatening behaviour towards John Glen and Patrick Burns to extort thousands of pounds from them, as well as stealing Mr Burns’s car on 18 May, 2011.

As the jury’s verdicts were read out, Coats and Wade sat in the dock and made no sound. They were led back down to the cells with their heads bowed. The packed public gallery, where some of the men’s family members sat, was also silent.

Shona Barrie, procurator-fiscal in the west of Scotland, said: “It is difficult to imagine a more distressing or horrific murder of a woman. The anguish which her family must have suffered is incomprehensible.”

Lynda Spence timeline

2011

April 13 - Lynda Spence visits parents in Castlebank Gardens, Glasgow, to give mother flowers for birthday - the last time they see her.

April 14 - Ms Spence abducted from Broomhill Path, Glasgow by Colin Coats and Philip Wade and taken to a flat in Meadowfoot Road, West Kilbride, Ayrshire, the home of David Parker. She is taped to a chair and subjected to violence for up to two weeks - Parker and Paul Smith said they were offered money to “babysit” Ms Spence when Coats and Wade were not there.

April 20 - Silver Vauxhall Astra car hired for Ms Spence from Glasgow on April 1 picked up by automatic number plate recognition camera on M77 near Floak, Ayrshire.

April 20 - Ms Spence phones parents and says she will contact them again later - the last time they hear from her.

April 27 - Coats and Wade tell Parker and Smith they can leave flat. Ms Spence alive at this point.

April 29 - Coats and Wade visit Wade’s friend Lee Winyard in Tighnabruaich, Argyll, and ask to use his boat to “get rid of something”. He refuses.

May 13 - Ms Spence formally reported missing after fraud investigators call at parents’ home.

June 2 - Mobile phone used by Ms Spence found in bin outside cafe in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.

October 27 - Crown witness Pamela Pearson gives statement to police, saying Wade told her that he helped dispose of woman’s body.

October 28 - Blood mark discovered on bathroom floor of flat in Meadowfoot Road found to have same DNA profile of Ms Spence.

October 31 - Police take Coats, Wade, Smith and Parker into custody.

2013

January 16 - Trial begins. Court hears Ms Spence was being recruited as police informer for Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

January 28 - Ms Spence’s mother Patricia Spence gives evidence, weeping as she describes her “loving, caring girl”.

March 6 - Parker and Smith cleared of murder when they plead guilty to holding Ms Spence against her will and assaulting her. They also admit attempting to defeat the ends of justice and agree to give evidence against Coats and Wade.

April 8 - Jury finds Coats and Wade guilty of murder.