Glasgow & West Scotland

Elaine Doyle murder: John Docherty sentenced to 21 years for 1986 killing

John Docherty and Elaine Doyle
Image caption Elaine's Doyle's killer John Docherty must serve 21 years before being considered for parole

The former soldier who murdered Greenock teenager Elaine Doyle more than 28 years ago has been sentenced to a minimum of 21 years in prison.

John Docherty, 50, from Dunoon, Argyll, was convicted of the killing in June.

Elaine's body was found in a lane close to her parents' flat in Ardgowan Street in Greenock.

Docherty - who denied the charges - was convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh after DNA evidence came to light.

It brought to a close one of Scotland's longest running unsolved murders.

The trial, which heard 50 days of evidence, was told how Elaine had attended a disco at Greenock Celtic Club in the town's Laird Street before she died.

Image copyright BBC - police handout
Image caption Elaine Doyle was murdered while going home from a disco at the Greenock Celtic club

She left with best friend, Lynn McCurdy, now 44, who told the trial how they walked together to a hamburger stall in Greenock town centre.

Around midnight they went their separate ways, with Elaine beginning to walk home.

The court heard how the naked body of the teenager was found in a lane just yards from her home in Ardgowan Street on 2 June 1986. She had been strangled.

Forensic scientist Pauline McSorley told the trial that she had tested DNA that was found on Elaine's body and clothing.

She said tiny traces matched the DNA of police, forensic scientists, and a member of the laboratory staff.

But two results could not be accounted for until Docherty volunteered a sample of his DNA in May 2012 and gave another sample on March last year, when he was arrested and charged with the murder.

The trial heard that the DNA on Elaine's back was an exact match. DNA on the girl's face also matched Docherty's profile.

Mrs McSorley said it was 560,000 times more likely it came from the accused than any other unrelated male.

Docherty's defence QC Donald Findlay called witnesses from among 41 other names on police files and attempted to show how someone else could have been responsible.

He also branded the police investigation "a shambles" and said officers had not told the truth and had contaminated the crime scene, meaning the DNA evidence was not reliable.

The eight women and seven men of the jury did not believe Docherty's defence, however, and convicted him of murder.

The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, said the sentence "ends a long search for justice for the Doyle family".

He added: "Elaine Doyle was 16 at the time of her death. It deeply touched the people of Inverclyde and beyond who never let her memory fade.

"The support of the public to law enforcement was unwavering and has played a large part in bringing Elaine's murderer to justice.

"The sterling work of the police officers and prosecutors who worked on the case is reflected in the verdict. Elaine can now rest in peace."

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