Killer cleared of World's End murders

Share this article

A CONVICTED double killer was today sensationally cleared of the World's End murders after a judge threw out the case against him.

Angus Sinclair, 62, had been on trial at the High Court accused of raping and murdering Christine Eadie and Helen Scott in October 1977.

But trial judge Lord Clarke today upheld a defence motion that there was insufficient evidence against Sinclair.

Sinclair was sent back to Peterhead Prison where he is already serving two separate life sentences for raping and murdering a teenage girl and assauting a string of children. Police think he may be linked to several other murders.

Families and friends of the two girls were left devastated by today's ruling. Helen's father Morain Scott, who was in court to hear the judgement today, told during the trial how his wife had never recovered from learning of their daughter's death.

The two 17-year-olds disappeared from the World's End pub in the Royal Mile almost 30 years ago and their bodies where found in East Lothian the next day.

Detectives on Edinburgh's biggest ever murder investigation were also shattered as Sinclair walked from the dock, and quickly announced they had no plans to reopen the inquiry.

Officers had been confident of securing a conviction against Sinclair after nearly three decades of intensive investigation.

The case had been closed and reopened on a number of occasions, but scientific breakthroughs finally allowed police to press charges.

Prosecutors used complex DNA evidence to try to bring about a conviction over the killings.

But after eight days of evidence, Sinclair's defence team lodged a submission on Friday that there was no case to answer.

Dismissing the case today, Lord Clarke said that although Sinclair could be shown to have had sex with at least one of the girls, the evidence was not strong enough to link him to the murders.

He said: "I am of the view that the evidence ... as a whole is neutral as to whether or not he (Sinclair) was involved in acting with force or violence against the girls, there having been some evidence of sexual contact between him and the girls in the 12 hours or so before they were killed.

"The question of timing seems to me to be critical.

"I'm not satisfied what the advocate-depute had to say overcame these difficulties in that respect."

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "We are very disappointed at the decision.

"There have been numerous reviews of the brutal murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott over the past 30 years and we have always taken very careful steps to review all the evidence.

"We put together a thorough and detailed case for the Crown Office to take to trial and today's announcement is disappointing.

"Our primary concerns at the moment are for the families of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott. No-one can imagine the torment they have been put through.

"We have no plans to reopen the investigation."

Sinclair did not give evidence during his trial. In a document read to the jury at the start of the trial, he blamed his late brother-in-law, Gordon Hamilton, for the murders. Sinclair also claimed that sexual contact between him and the girls was consensual.

There was undeniable evidence that Gordon Hamilton had sex with both girls.

Christine was found naked at Gosford Bay on October 16, 1977. Her hands were bound behind her back, she had been strangled with a pair of tights and her pants were stuffed into her mouth.

Helen's partly-clothed body was found a few miles away in a field near Haddington. She had also been tied up and strangled.

Only one DNA profile had been recovered from semen found on Helen Scott's coat, which was brand new, but no positive 'hit' could be found.

After previous forensic tests had failed to provide a breakthrough, the teenager's coat was tested again in April 2004 and this time a second profile was recovered belonging to another man.

The DNA database showed this belonged to Sinclair.

Despite his death in 1996, Hamilton's fingerprints were recovered from a DIY job he carried out in a flat in Glasgow.

It provided enough genetic material for his DNA also to be matched to intimate swabs taken from Christine and Helen.

His profile was never stored on the database as he was never convicted of an offence.

Sinclair's semen was found on the lining of Helen's black coat, which also bore traces of fibres from the seats of Sinclair's car.

The odds against the semen stain coming from anyone else but Sinclair were a billion to one.

But the Crown were unable to prove how or when they got there.

During a legal debate when the jurors were not present, prosecution and defence had argued about whether the trial should continue.

Giving his ruling on the debate today Lord Clarke told the jury: "I have reached the conclusion there was insufficient evidence in law to entitle you to reach a verdict, therefore you are not required to reach a verdict."

Sinclair was convicted and jailed for life in 2001 for raping and murdering Glasgow teenager Mary Gallacher more than 22 years earlier.

He had also been convicted of the culpable homicide of seven-year-old Catherine Reehill in 1961 for which he served six years.

And he has convictions for three rapes and a number of other sexual offences for which he was convicted in 1982.

Hundreds of police officers were involved in the World's End case and many who originally worked on the case have already either retired or died.

Dad still believes Sinclair was involved in daughter's death

THE father of World's End murder victim Helen Scott said today that he still believed Angus Sinclair was involved in his daughter's death.

Morain Scott said he was devastated by the judge's decision to throw out the case against the convicted double killer.

Speaking outside the High Court in Edinburgh today, Mr Scott said: "I am absolutely shattered – words can't explain how I feel. Thirty years of trying to get a conclusion... I promised I would stick by this and get justice which, honestly, I don't think I got today. At least had it gone to a jury, you can accept their decision, but for the case to be thrown out after all the hard work that was put in just astounds me completely."

Mr Scott said he thought there was enough evidence in the two weeks of prosecution case.

"The girls had to get to East Lothian somehow. Both had their hands tied and to think that any one person did that is unbelievable," he said.

The DNA evidence against Sinclair was also telling, according to Mr Scott.

"It was proved in court that DNA from Helen's coat was Sinclair's. I am just gutted. Absolutely gutted."

Asked if he believed that Sinclair killed both girls, Mr Scott said: "Yes, I do. He was involved, whether he was an accessory or not, he was involved. I couldn’t see one person doing that. There must have been a vehicle to take them to East Lothian. It had to be someone who knew the area, which he knew. I am absolutely shattered."

Mr Scott, 77, added: "I just want to be left in peace now to see the rest of my days out. I just want to think about Helen and Christine, who had their lives taken away from them just when they were starting out. Helen would only have been 17 in July [1977] and she never got the chance for any ambition she had in life and we as a family never got the chance to see where she would have gone."

Mr Scott admitted he had doubts over the weekend about the case continuing after defence counsel made a plea for no case to answer on Friday.

He said it would be "terrible" if it emerged that evidence in connection with the case was not heard in court, but praised the role of the police throughout the years.

"The police for 30 years, right from the word go – some have now even departed this Earth and others who have worked on this case – they've never given up. They’ve kept re-looking at it. I can't praise the police more for the work they've done. They must be gutted as well. They must feel terrible."

Mr Scott's son, Kevin, said both families had been left with feelings of "disappointment and emptiness" following the decision.

"Having given so much support over the past two years, since the charges were brought, it obviously comes as a bitter pill to swallow," he added.

"Having said that, we cannot thank enough Lothian and Borders Police for the tenacity and time that they have spent to try to bring a conclusion that would be acceptable to us as a family.

"I would finish off just by finally asking that once my father has spoken to you, that you will please give my father, and Christine Eadie's family, the time and space to come to terms with this disappointing decision."

When asked later by reporters how he thought his sister's death had affected him, he said it was impossible to know but said he was more protective over his family as a result of the murder.

He went on to say: "I think what has been difficult, as I said earlier on, is that to live the past two years with so much hope, believing that we would get the closure that we wanted and needed as a family, and today obviously is a disappointment."

Sinclair to be quizzed over killings of three other women

ANGUS SINCLAIR is set to face investigation for at least three more murders following his acquittal for the World's End killings.

Detectives believe Sinclair - already serving two life sentences for rape and murder - is linked to the slaying of two women in Glasgow and another in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire.

Operation Trinity, which involves 100 officers from the Strathclyde, Lothian and Borders and Tayside police forces, have been working on proving he was involved.

With the World's End court case concluded, Sinclair is expected to face fresh questioning.

The inquiry is focusing on the murders of Anna Kenny, 20, in August, 1977, Hilda McAuley or Miller, 36, in October, 1977, both in Glasgow, and Agnes Cooney, 23, in Coatbridge in December, 1977.

One of the victims, Anna Kenny, was also a friend of Wilma Sutherland, the former wife of Gordon Hamilton.

It is not the first time that Sinclair has been linked to other murders. In 2001 he was investigated as part of an inquiry trying to find the infamous Glasgow serial killer Bible John.

Detective Chief Inspector Allan Jones, who led the final stages of the World's End case, said he could not comment on whether Sinclair was a suspect.

But he added: "These cases are being continually reviewed."

Officers have spent three years trawling through information gathered in the cases from the 1970s and 80s.

The possible victims:

AGNES COONEY A 23-year-old nurse from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, she was found stabbed on moorland near Airdrie, in December, 1977. She was last seen at the rear door of the Irish nightspot the Cladda Club, on the South Side of Glasgow. She had been waiting for a lift home from members of a band who had been playing that night.

ANNA KENNY The 20-year-old was last seen alive leaving the Hurdy Gurdy bar in Townhead, Glasgow, on August 6, 1977. She had planned to take a taxi to her home in the Gorbals but was never seen again. Her skeleton was found nearly two years later in a shallow grave near Skipness, on Kintyre, by a shepherd and identified by dental records.

HILDA McAULEY or MILLER The divorced, 36-year-old mother-of-two was last seen leaving a dance at the Plaza Ballroom in Glasgow alone. Her body was found in bushes at the rear of a railway arch opposite a caravan park in Renfrewshire, on October 2, 1977, near a local 'lover's lane'. Her murder was described as particularly brutal by police.

Ripper was questioned over double killing

THE Yorkshire Ripper was the most infamous figure to come under suspicion for the World's End killings.

Detectives visited Peter Sutcliffe to quiz him over the deaths following his capture in January 1981.

Serial killer Sutcliffe, a lorry driver who travelled the country, had terrorised the north of England, murdering 13 women and attacking seven more from 1975 to 1980.

The names of several well-known gangsters were also thrown into the pot as possible suspects.

Arthur Thompson junior, the son of Arthur "The Godfather" Thompson, the kingpin who dominated the Glasgow crime scene, had been visiting Seton Sands in East Lothian where one of his cousins had a caravan at the time.

Christine Eadie's body was found on the nearby beach and Thompson was known to haunt Edinburgh pubs to pick up young women.

But officers questioning Thompson, who years later was shot dead by a hit man, found he had an alibi.

How the case came to court

October 16, 1977 - the bodies of Helen Scott and Christine Eadie found in East Lothian.

November 1977 - senior Edinburgh detective admits there was "no light at the end of the tunnel" in the case.

May 1978 - probe scaled down.

1979 - case was archived.

1988 - case reopened for first DNA tests which prove unsuccessful.

1997 - scientists at Strathclyde Police develop a profile from semen sample on Helen's coat.

1998 - DNA swabs taken from 400 men. No matches found.

April 2004 - a different section of the coat stain tested. Hit on the database for Angus Sinclair.

January 2005 - Angus Sinclair publicly named as suspect.

Late 2005 - cornicing from a Glasgow flat gives scientists profile for Gordon Hamilton which matches the DNA sample for the other killer.

27 August 2007 - Sinclair goes on trial for the murders at the High Court in Edinburgh.

10 September 2007 - the case against Sinclair is thrown out.