A CONVICTED killer and paedophile who escaped justice for nearly 40 years for the rape and murder of two teenage girls is set to end his days behind bars after he was finally found guilty of carrying out one of Scotland’s most infamous crimes.
Angus Sinclair was yesterday jailed for life and ordered to spend 37 years in prison for the “World’s End murders” of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott in 1977.
Sinclair, 69, who was already serving time for previous crimes, is the first person to be convicted under Scotland’s revised double jeopardy law – which allows a previous acquittal to be set aside – after the collapse of a trial in 2007.
The jury at the High Court in Livingston found him guilty of acting along with his late brother-in-law Gordon Hamilton.
The men had met the girls at the World’s End pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on 15 October 1977 – the day before the 17-year-olds’ bodies were found dumped, five miles apart, in East Lothian.
Lord Matthews sentenced Sinclair to the longest ever minimum jail term imposed in a Scottish court. Outside, Helen’s father Morain Scott, 84, expressed his relief at the verdicts but said the nightmare would continue.
Flanked by his son, Kevin, his grand-daughter, Aimee, who is 17 on Sunday, and Christine’s brother Hamilton Craig, he said: “There will never be closure for me because I saw Helen that night and I will never forget for as long as I live what they had done to my beautiful daughter.”
Police believe Sinclair could be responsible for the deaths of at least three other women, but lack of evidence means he is unlikely to ever be brought to trial.
Sinclair, a prisoner at Glenochil Prison, had denied the charges against him, forcing the five-week trial.
He submitted three special defences – of incrimination, blaming Hamilton, who died in 1996; alibi – saying he was fishing on the banks of the Firth of Forth near Cockenzie power station at the time; and consent to sexual intercourse.
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He claimed that he first had consensual sex with Christine and then Helen in his camper van in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park, and that Hamilton had sex with both girls in the opposite order. He alleged that Hamilton then drove him back to East Lothian so he could continue fishing and that when he left, the girls were “alive and unharmed”.
But, over the 24-day trial – much of it consisting of evidence from forensic scientists – Sinclair’s story began to unravel.
DNA analysis showed Sinclair had touched “most if not all” of the ligatures used to tie the girls up.
Significantly, DNA found on Helen’s coat matched Sinclair’s, with the chances of it coming from another unrelated man conservatively estimated at being around one in a billion.
In other crucial evidence, a forensic scientist with expertise in knots said it was “likely” that the teenagers had been tied up by different people – lending weight to the Crown’s case that Sinclair and Hamilton had both carried out the crimes.
Sentencing Sinclair, Lord Matthews said that whatever dreams the girls had for their futures had “turned to nightmares” that night when they left the World’s End pub.
He said: “Little were they to know that they had the misfortune to be in the company of two men for whom the words evil and monster seem inadequate.
“Unless one day your conscience, if you have one, motivates you to tell the truth, no-one other than you will ever know precisely what part you and Gordon Hamilton played in these awful events.
“Perhaps it does not matter. What does matter is that the girls were subjected to an ordeal beyond comprehension and then left like carrion, exposed for all to see, with no dignity, even in death.
“For them at least the nightmare is over and if they were not resting in peace before today I hope that they are now.
“The nightmare for their families and friends, on the other hand, has gone on from those first awful moments when they heard the news no-one should hear until even now, 37 years later and counting. It will never end.”
Afterwards a dignified Mr Scott, dressed in a sober suit and tie, said he had promised his wife Margaret on her deathbed in 1989 that he would secure justice for his daughter.
He said he had thought about his daughter every day since her death, adding: “I wonder where she would have been today. Would she be married? Would she have children? Would I have grandchildren?
“They’ve stolen life from two youngsters who had their whole lives ahead of them.”
Standing beside his father and Christine’s brother Hamilton Craig, Kevin Scott, brother of Helen, said his sister had been a “wonderful, thoughtful and caring” person.
“We have waited 37 years for justice,” he said.
“Today that wait has ended and we finally have justice for Helen and Christine.
“It’s been long and at times a very lonely battle but, in our different ways we didn’t give up and I would like to thank all those other people who didn’t give up; our friends, the police – some no longer with us – the prosecutors, the forensic scientists and the public.”
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, who led the prosecution in the case, said he had considered it his public duty to do so.
He said: “I gave the relatives my personal commitment that the Crown would do everything possible to ensure they received justice. The introduction of the double jeopardy law meant I was able to apply for a retrial of Angus Sinclair as Scotland’s first under this legislation.
“It was important for the families of Helen and Christine and in the public interest that this case was finally resolved and justice was delivered.
“I hope the conviction of Angus Sinclair after four decades for one of Scotland’s worst crimes reassures the public that time is no barrier to justice.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Gary Flannigan, from Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, paid tribute to all who had been involved in the long-running inquiry.
He said: “Today’s verdict is the culmination of 37 years of dedicated police work and continued partnership working alongside the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
“The World’s End murders investigation is a remarkable inquiry.
“Not only because it is the first where a conviction has been secured following the double jeopardy legislation, but also because of the exemplary level of foresight demonstrated by police and forensic scientists during the initial stages of the investigation.
“Those officers and scientists from 1977 and continuing through the generations are true heroes, for without their care and attention, without their absolute determination to preserve the clothing and samples for some development they could not have dreamt off, then this historic moment could not have happened.”
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