Elaine Doyle: Defence probes sex killer claim

Murder victim Elaine Doyle was killed in Greenock in 1986. Picture: Contributed
Murder victim Elaine Doyle was killed in Greenock in 1986. Picture: Contributed
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A WITNESS in the Elaine Doyle murder trial was asked today if a notorious sex killer might have been stalking the streets the night the teenager died.

Gordon Darroch, 48, now a quality manager with an engineering firm, was a jobless 20-year-old at the time Elaine was found strangled near her Greenock home.

He told the High Court in Edinburgh he and his friend had gone for a walk to pass the time on the night of the murder almost 28 years ago.

While walking, they met up with another friend who was out exercising his family’s Jack Russell terrier.

In statements given to detectives, Mr Darroch also said they had seen a man in his mid-20s dressed in black walking towards Greenock town centre down Ardgowan Street where Elaine lived.

It was around the time when, the jury heard, that Elaine could have been making her way home after a Sunday night out at a disco in the town’s Celtic Club.

On trial is John Docherty, 49, who denies murdering jeweller’s assistant Elaine - and had produced a list of 41 possible suspects which, it is suggested, may include the real killer.

One of those is Gavin McGuire, 55, serving life for the carbon-copy slaying of Kilmarnock teenager Mhairi Julyan.

Today, defence QC Ronald Findlay showed Mr Darroch photos of Mr McGuire, asking: “Do you have any reason to exclude Gavin McGuire as the man you saw in Ardgowan Street?”

Mr Darroch replied: “I don’t. It could potentially have been.”

But advocate depute John Scullion, prosecuting, reminded Mr Darroch that in 1996 detectives had shown him a series of mug shots - which included Mr McGuire - to see if he could identify the man he saw around midnight in Ardgowan Street a decade earlier.

“None of the pictures jump out at me,” Mr Darroch told them. He also told the detectives that he had recognised the photo of Mr McGuire which they showed him because of TV coverage of the Mhairi Julyan murder trial.

Docherty, now of Hunters’ Quay, Holiday Village, Dunoon, claims that at the time he is alleged to have stripped and strangled Elaine Doyle, 16, he was with his parents - who are no longer alive - at their home in Anne Street.

The charge alleges that on June 2 1986 in a lane near Elaine Doyle’s home in Ardgowan Street, Greenock, he seized her by the hair, struck her on the head and either removed or compelled her to remove her clothing.

The charge goes on to allege that Docherty forced Elaine to the ground, pushed her face into the ground, sat or knelt on the teenager then placed a ligature round her neck and strangled her.

Docherty also denies stealing a handbag from Ardgowan Street on the same date.

He further denies a charge of attacking another woman, Linda Hargie, on various occasions between 1990 and 1995 at an address in Anne Street, Greenock by seizing her and pushing her and punching her on the head.

The trial continues.