Lynda Spence murder accused ‘confessed’, court told

A man accused of murdering a missing businesswoman confessed to killing her and said he disposed of her body in a furnace, a court has heard.

Peter Haddley, 26, said he and Colin Coats were friends when they were inmates in Addiewell Prison in West Lothian after Coats was arrested on suspicion of murdering Lynda Spence, who disappeared in April 2011.

Mr Haddley said Coats told him he had “cut off her head” and that he had to increase the temperature of the furnace he had put her body in because there was “still parts of it left”.

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At the High Court in Glasgow today, where Coats, 42, is on trial along with three co-accused, Paul Smith, 47, David Parker, 38, and Philip Wade, 42, the witness also said he was asked to arrange a reported sighting of Ms Spence in Manchester.

The four men deny kidnapping Ms Spence, 27, holding her at a flat in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, and torturing her for up to a fortnight before murdering her.

Mr Haddley said he and Coats exchanged letters which were written in code, referring to their arrangement to organise a sighting of the missing woman as “the game”.

Solicitor general Lesley Thomson, prosecuting, asked Mr Haddley what Coats told him about Ms Spence, to which he replied: “I was told that he had killed her in a flat and disposed of her body on a furnace.

“It was a long conversation but he just kept going back to the same two points I’ve just told you about.”

Ms Thomson asked if Coats told him anything about the method used and Mr Haddley said: “He cut her head off.”

The witness also told jurors Coats said to him there were other people present when Ms Spence was killed, but he did not say that anyone else was directly involved.

When told about how he disposed of her body, Coats apparently told Mr Haddley he had to set the furnace to a “higher degree” because there was “still parts of it left”, the court heard.

Ms Thomson asked: “Were you asked to do anything?”

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The witness said: “I was asked to try and get a reported sighting of Lynda Spence in Manchester.”

Mr Haddley said he was to get in touch with a solicitor he knew and ask them to report it.

He told the court that although he agreed to do it, he took no steps to make the arrangement.

“I had no means or ways of doing it anyway,” he said.

Part of one of the letters, which Mr Haddley agreed was sent to him by Coats, was read to the court.

It said: “If you are having issues with the current games don’t feel pressure buddy.”

Ms Thomson asked the witness: “Who was to organise the female to play the role of Lynda Spence (for the sighting)?”

He responded: “No one. We never got that far.”

The solicitor general said: “But that would have been required?”

“Yes,” Mr Haddley replied.

He also told jurors there was some discussion of payment for the person who was able to arrange a sighting, but that no sum of money was set.

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The letters exchanged between the two prisoners were later seized by police.

Under cross-examination, Derek Ogg QC, defending Coats, accused Mr Haddley of being a “malicious, self-serving liar”, who made a story up for the police in order to secure “benefits” for himself, such as early release from prison or movement to an open prison or an English jail.

The trial before Lord Pentland continues.