Suzanne: ‘Cadaver dog’ once found body in 9ft of water

A “VICTIM recovery” dog which reacted positively in the search for missing bookkeeper Suzanne Pilley had once located a body under nine feet of water, a jury has heard.

Buster, a springer spaniel, and his police handler were taken to Edinburgh from their base in South Yorkshire to help the inquiry into Ms Pilley’s disappearance, and he searched the basement garage at her work.

PC Simone Thompson, 44, said her dog showed interest in a number of areas of the garage and an internal staircase which led to the offices in the building.

“It signified he was locating the scent of what he was trained for … human remains and human blood scent,” said PC Thompson.

Asked about previous operations in which Buster had taken part, PC Thompson said she had had “some very good results” with him and that he had “done extremely well”.


Hide Ad

She recounted an inquiry in which a woman had been reported missing by her husband.

“We were requested to search a stretch of fast-flowing river. From the bank, Buster gave a positive indication. The dog was adamant there was an indication at that point. The underwater search team attended and, at the point Buster had indicated, the missing female was found in nine feet of water,” said PC Thompson.

David Gilroy, 49, of Silverknowes Brae, Edinburgh, and Ms Pilley, 38, of Whitson Road, Edinburgh, worked together for Infrastructure Managers Limited (IML), Thistle Street, Edinburgh, and had been in a relationship.

He denies murdering her by unknown means on 4 May 2010, and concealing the body in IML’s premises before transporting it in the boot of his car to various locations in Scotland. Her remains have never been found.


Hide Ad

The High Court in Edinburgh yesterday heard that, after death, changes in the body occurred and gases were given off, and dogs known as cadaver or victim recovery dogs could be trained to detect the scent. They could also indicate human blood scent.

PC Thompson said she had worked with Buster for about six years. He reacted by lying down and barking.

They had been drafted in by Lothian and Borders Police in the Pilley case, and asked to search the offices and garage in Thistle Street.

She is due to continue her evidence today.


Hide Ad

Earlier, Detective Inspector Stuart Houston, 35, said closed-circuit television footage was found of Gilroy’s silver Vauxhall Vectra car being driven out of Thistle Street just after 11am on the day after Ms Pilley disappeared.

Gilroy was seen a short time later buying diesel and some food and drink at a filling station on Queensferry Road, near Craigleith retail park, Edinburgh.

DI Houston said “painstaking” work by a large number of officers identified the car in a one-second clip of CCTV footage in Doune, near Stirling, and then at Tyndrum, Perthshire, at 1:22pm. The next sighting was at Inveraray, Argyll, at 3:51pm. He said the journey between Tyndrum and Inveraray took about 40 minutes.

Gilroy went on to Lochgilphead, Argyll, where a new school campus was one of his work’s projects. He was seen at the school for about 90 minutes, leaving just before 6pm. The car was shown in Inveraray at about 7pm, and then in Tyndrum at 9:08pm – a journey which DI Houston reminded the jury took some 40 minutes.


Hide Ad

He told the court that there had been at least six searches in the Argyll area in the months following Ms Pilley’s disappearance. Over one weekend, 200 volunteers from mountain rescue teams across Scotland had helped.

“It is a vast forest area … there are hundreds of forest tracks. It is not particularly easy to search,” said DI Houston.

The trial continues.