Corstorphine Hill killer to be kept in Carstairs

James Dunleavy was found guilty of the culpable homicide of his 66-year-old mother. Picture: Police Scotland
James Dunleavy was found guilty of the culpable homicide of his 66-year-old mother. Picture: Police Scotland
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A SON who beheaded his mother and buried her dismembered body in a shallow grave must remain in a secure unit, a judge has ordered.

Psychiatrists at the State Hospital, Carstairs, are still trying to assess James Dunleavy’s mental condition. The 40-year-old was convicted of murder in January.

The trial heard harrowing evidence suggesting that Philomena Dunleavy, 66, may still have been alive, but unconscious, when her son began to hack off her legs with knife and saw.

Mrs Dunleavy, a mother of five, had left her Dublin home in early April last year and arr­ived in Scotland on 24 April to visit her eldest son James – also known as Seamus. Days later she was dead, butchered in tram construction worker Dunleavy’s flat in Balgreen Road, Edinburgh.

It was more than a month before Mrs Dunleavy’s remains were unearthed, just a few minutes walk away at the Corstorphine Hill nature reserve.

Dunleavy denied murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by burying her.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted him of a reduced charge of culpable homicide. They also found him guilty of the attempted cover-up.

Lord Jones told Dunleavy at the time: “You require to be det­ained under conditions of such security as can be provided in the State Hospital.”

Yesterday the judge continued his interim order for the doctors to continue their work.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson told the court that Dunleavy wanted the matter dealt with, but given what the doctors had said so far, that was “unrealistic”.

No witnesses saw Mrs Dunleavy’s body being dumped. She was discovered by ski instructor Aaron McLean-Foreman, 24, who stopped to sunbathe while pushing his bike along a narrow path last June.

The following day, 7 June, archeologist Dr Jennifer Miller, other forensic and medical experts began the painstaking work of unearthing the near-nak­ed torso, severed head and legs. Police launched Operation Sandpiper, appealing for help to identify the body. Mrs Dunleavy’s claddagh ring took the search to Ireland.

CT scans of Mrs Dunleavy’s skull, combined with computer technology, enabled Dundee University’s craniofacial expert Dr Caroline Wilkinson to produce a likeness of the woman.

Police heard about a shouting match between Dunleavy and his mother about her supposed affair with a man. She was said to have walked out on retired painter James Dunleavy, 68 – although he insisted they were still man and wife.

Two months after his arrest, Dunleavy’s legal team arranged for his transfer from prison to the State Hospital, Carstairs.

Dunleavy is due back in court in June when the case is expected to continue at the High Court in Perth.