Elaine Doyle killer John Docherty to appeal

John Docherty: Appeal to start against murder conviction. Picture: PA
John Docherty: Appeal to start against murder conviction. Picture: PA
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THE FORMER soldier who murdered teenager Elaine Doyle almost three decades ago is set to appeal against his conviction.

Lawyers acting for John Docherty, 50, have lodged legal papers with court officials in Edinburgh, it emerged on Thursday.

Docherty was sentenced earlier this year to serve a minimum of 21 years for the murder of 16-year-old Elaine in Greenock, Inverclyde, in June 1986.

The jewellery shop assistant was discovered naked and strangled yards from her home in the Clydeside town almost 30 years ago.

Now Docherty’s solicitors will go to the Court of Criminal Appeal later this year in a bid to have his conviction quashed.

On Thursday, a court official said: “We have received papers which indicate an intention to appeal against conviction and sentence.”

The ex-squaddie was arrested in 2012 following a cold case review and found guilty of murdering Elaine as she walked home from a disco in Greenock’s Celtic Supporters’ Club.

Detectives arrested Docherty, of Dunoon, Argyll, on DNA evidence which were found on sticky tape which used in 1986 to lift hairs and fibres of Elaine’s body,

They acted after finding Docherty’s DNA on the sticky tape.

The techniques required to match DNA were not available at the time of Elaine’s death but cold case detectives reviewed thousands of statements and discovered Docherty had not been questioned after the murder.

When he was asked for a DNA sample, Docherty agreed and appeared “stunned” when he was later charged with Elaine’s murder.

During his trial, it emerged Docherty, then 21, and a friend had been at the Celtic Supporters’ Club, and while the friend was interviewed and named Docherty as being with him, officers never approached him.

The ex-Royal Engineer, who moved back to Greenock after leaving the Army, was one of 722 potential suspects and he was tested in May 2012.

Docherty did not give evidence in his defence and his QC, Donald Findlay, branded the investigation “a shambles”, after hearing a blanket from a police car was draped over Elaine.

He claimed the crime scene had been contaminated and the DNA evidence was not reliable. But the jury disagreed and found Docherty guilty.

Jailing Docherty, trial judge Lord Stewart said: “The killing was a brutal one and had a terrible effect.”

Now Docherty’s legal team will return to court in a bid to have their client freed from his prison sentence.

The date of his appeal has yet to be set.