Margaret Fleming: Police urge couple to reveal her body’s whereabouts

Police investigating the disappearance of a vulnerable woman two decades ago have appealed to her supposed carers for information on where her body is.

Margaret Fleming.
Margaret Fleming.

Margaret Fleming, who had learning difficulties, vanished from “the face of the Earth” around December 1999, but it did not become apparent she was missing until October 2016.

In July, Edward Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 59, were found guilty of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years. Ms Fleming’s body has never been found. Yesterday she would have celebrated her 39th birthday.

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Detective Superintendent Paul Livingstone, senior investigating officer on the case, marked the occasion by again appealing to the pair for information. He has offered to meet them to discuss the issue.

Det Supt Livingstone said: “I would like to appeal directly to Edward Cairney and Avril Jones, on what would have been Margaret’s 39th birthday.

“If you have a shred of decency, you will answer the questions Margaret’s family have to allow them to put her to rest.

“I have lodged formal requests with both lawyers, asking for information and reiterating an offer to meet me to discuss in person.

“Margaret was a very vulnerable young woman when she was abused, neglected, manipulated and murdered.

“It’s only right that her family and friends get the opportunity to pay their final respects.

“Whilst there has been a conviction for her murder and two people are in prison, it doesn’t mean that we will no longer act on information we receive about where her body is.

“It’s very important that she is given the funeral she deserves and for her family to be able to pay their respects to her. I would say again to Eddie Cairney and Avril Jones – your lies have caught up with you, so now do the decent thing and let Margaret’s family know what has happened to her.”

A week after their sentencing, the Scottish Court Service confirmed Cairney submitted an intimation of intent to appeal against his conviction and sentence, but it was understood Jones had not.

Jurors found the couple murdered Ms Fleming by unknown means between 18 December 1999 and 5 January 2000 at their home in Inverkip, Inverclyde, or elsewhere in Scotland. They then tried to cover up the crime for almost 18 years. During their trial, which began in April this year, prosecutors described Ms Fleming as a “friendless and lonely” young woman with significant difficulties.

Jones was also convicted unanimously of fraudulently claiming £182,000 in benefits by pretending Ms Fleming was alive and the couple were convicted of perverting the course of justice.