Glasgow & West Scotland

Margaret Fleming trial: Accused told 'you are up to your neck in it'

Margaret Fleming
Image caption Margaret Fleming was reported missing in October 2016

A carer accused of murdering missing woman Margaret Fleming told police she was still alive.

Avril Jones was asked during a police interview if she killed the woman she was looking after and she said "No".

Jones, 59, is on trial with Edward Cairney, 77, at the High Court in Glasgow. They were both detained at Glasgow Central Station in October 2017.

Both deny murdering Ms Fleming sometime between December 1999 and January 2000.

The pair were interviewed separately after their arrest at Govan Police Station.

Ms Jones was asked: "Did you kill Margaret Fleming, did you kill her?" and replied: "No."

The police then said: "Did Eddie kill her?" and she said: "No."

In court, prosecutor Iain McSporran QC asked Det Con Gerard Hawkes, who was one of the officers who conducted the interview with Ms Jones: "You ask if Margaret killed herself and the answer was a clear no," and the police officer replied: "Yes."

'Up to her neck'

Ms Jones was then asked in the interview if she or Mr Cairney were covering up for one another and she replied: "Absolutely not."

It was then put to her by police that she knew what happened to Margaret and she said: "She's alive."

Ms Jones was then asked if she or Mr Cairney had disposed of the body and said: "Dear God, no."

A major police investigation was sparked in October 2016 after a benefits claim submitted by Avril Jones on Margaret's behalf raised concerns about her well-being.

Margaret, who would now be 38, has allegedly not been seen for more than 19 years.

After Margaret's father died in October 1995, her mother could not cope and Mr Cairney and Ms Jones looked after her.

When asked about Margaret's benefits money Ms Jones told the police: "I didn't take the money. I gave it to her."

Ian Duguid QC, representing Ms Jones, asked Det Con Hawkes about a suggestion made that she was "up to her neck in it."

The QC said: "It was suggested that she was up to her neck for a murder for which no body has ever been found, the way she died is unknown and place and time is unknown and the hand of any assailant is unknown, is that correct?" and DC Hawkes said: "Yes."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The case is being heard at the High Court in Glasgow

In his police interview Mr Cairney said that he had earlier in the inquiry told police that Margaret was at Centrepoint in London and they had missed their chance to find her.

Mr Cairney added: "You missed her. You blew it."

Mr McSporran asked Det Con David Barr, who conducted the interview with Cairney: "Mr Cairney said Margaret wasn't right in the head and said you could just tell by looking at her that she's backwards," and he replied: "Yes."

He and Jones are accused of defrauding £182,000 in benefits and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by claiming Margaret was alive.

They deny all the charges against them.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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