Lynda Spence trial: Coats and Wade guilty of torture case murder

Lynda Spence's kneecaps were smashed, her hands branded with an iron and her thumb chopped off

Two men have been jailed for life for abducting, torturing and murdering missing businesswoman Lynda Spence.

Colin Coats and Philip Wade, both 42, were convicted of killing the 27-year-old who was last seen in Glasgow in 2011. Her body has never been found.

Coats was told he must serve a minimum of 33 years in jail. Wade was given a minimum term of 30 years.

Analysis

Although the exact details may never be known, the boasts of her killers and the confessions of their accomplices give a glimpse into her grim ordeal.

Her kneecaps were smashed, her hands branded with an iron and her thumb chopped off.

Not allowed to visit the toilet, she was forced to sit in her own waste.

How she was murdered and what became of her remains is not clear, although the High Court in Glasgow heard she may have been smothered, beheaded and burnt.

But what led the 27-year-old financial advisor to such a terrible end?

David Parker and Paul Smith were each jailed for 11 years for assaulting Ms Spence and holding her captive.

Jailing the pair at the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Pentland described Coats as "the prime mover" behind the abduction, torture and murder of Ms Spence.

'Barbaric crime'

He called the 42-year-old "manipulative, devious and cruel...highly ruthless and extremely dangerous".

Colin Coats and Philip Wade Colin Coats and Philip Wade were convicted of abducting, torturing and murdering Lynda Spence

The judge told both men they had been convicted of "a truly monstrous and barbaric crime" and described Wade as a "violent dangerous man with no respect for human life or respect for civilised society".

The jury, which by the end of the trial consisted of six men and seven women, took about 20 hours over five days to come to their verdicts following an 11-week trial.

They found Coats unanimously guilty of murdering Ms Spence, as well as disposing of her body.

Wade was also convicted of both charges, but he was cleared of cutting off the missing woman's head.

Coats, from Glasgow, was further found guilty of three other charges relating to his threatening behaviour towards John Glen and Patrick Burns to extort thousands of pounds from them, as well as stealing Mr Burns' car on 18 May 2011 after Coats said he would stab him with a pen.

Victim tortured

During the trial, the court heard how friends Coats and Wade abducted Ms Spence on 14 April 2011 after the victim had failed to pay back Coats money she took from him.

They forced the financial advisor into a car on Broomhill Path, Glasgow, and drove her to West Kilbride, North Ayrshire, where Parker and Smith let them in to Parker's flat in Meadowfoot Road.

For the next two weeks, the 27-year-old was kept prisoner in an attic room, taped to a chair, as Coats and Wade tried to force her to reveal details of financial deals.

The two men burned her with an iron, hit her with a golf club and crushed her toes, cut off her thumb and severed her pinkie finger.

When it became clear that she had no financial information, Coats and Wade murdered Ms Spence and disposed of her body.

In a bid to cover up the killing, Coats and Wade ordered a mass clean-up of Parker's flat.

It was scrubbed with bleach, while furniture, crockery and bedding was removed and floorboards and carpets ripped up and replaced.

The court heard evidence that the two men drove to Wade's friend's caravan in Tighnabruaich, Argyll, where they expressed a desire to "get rid of something".

Crown witness Lee Winyard said he believed the car they arrived in was the same as the one that featured in a missing person poster relating to Ms Spence's disappearance.

Reduced charge

The silver Vauxhall Astra, which had a broken wing mirror, was hired for Ms Spence about two weeks before she vanished.

A phone used by Ms Spence was discovered in a bin outside the Lunchbox cafe in Kilbirnie, a North Ayrshire town about a mile from where Wade lived in Glengarnock.

Parker and Smith were also charged with Ms Spence's murder but were cleared after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of holding her against her will and assaulting her.

Parker was jailed for 11 years and three months for his role in guarding Ms Spence and trying to cover up the murder. Smith was jailed for 11 years for the same offences.

Giving evidence during the trial, Coats said Ms Spence arranged to stay in the Meadowfoot Road flat herself.

He claimed she wanted to lie low because of threats from former business associates over an unpaid debt and disappeared from the property one day when Smith and Parker were not there.

A spot of blood identified as Ms Spence's found on the linoleum floor at the foot of the bath.

However, Coats' lawyer suggested that this could have been consistent with her ordinary use of the bathroom.

The defence said the Crown failed to prove that Ms Spence was even dead, leading evidence from witnesses who claimed to have seen her after she was allegedly killed.

But the jury did not believe these claims and convicted Coats and Wade of abducting, assaulting, robbing and murdering Ms Spence, and a second charge of clearing up after the alleged crime in an attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

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