Police told missing woman 'was eating from dog bowl'
Social worker called authorities after speaking to murder accused in 2016.
A social worker told police missing Margaret Fleming was eating from a dog bowl and self-harming, a court has been told.
Veronica Bennett, who works for Inverclyde Council, said she made the call after speaking to Avril Jones, who is accused of murdering Ms Fleming.
Ms Bennett told the High Court in Glasgow that concerns had been flagged up to the social work department after Jones submitted a disability benefits claim on behalf of Ms Fleming dated September 30, 2016.
In this Jones claimed Ms Fleming was banned from the kitchen of the house because she would eat from a dog bowl and that she had self-harmed.
The social worker said she offered help to Jones and added: "I explained we have a duty of care. I could sense she was becoming uneasy."
Ms Bennett added: "I think she said she didn't want any support and they were actually managing.
"Avril also said that Margaret had picked a hole in her head and she hadn't taken her to the doctor."
The social worker said she felt Ms Fleming should be given urgent medical attention.
'I explained we have a duty of care. I could sense she was becoming uneasy.'Veronica Bennett
However, doctors at the Port Glasgow practice where Ms Fleming was registered refused to come as the address was outside their practice area, and doctors at the Weymss Bay practice also would not come out because she was not a patient.
Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC asked Ms Bennett what she did and she replied: "I called the police."
Defence QC Ian Duguid asked Ms Bennett: "Did Avril Jones say this had all happened a long time ago," and she replied: "No."
The court later heard from Alana McAtamney, a benefits agency worker, that Jones filled in a benefits claim in which she stated Ms Fleming "does not have anything to do with preparing food" and her hygiene "left a lot to be desired when she was caught eating out of the dog bowl".
Mr McSporran prosecuting, asked: "What was it that concerned you particularly?"
Ms McAtamney replied: "That there was no other involvement from any other services."
Edward Cairney and Avril Jones deny murdering Margaret when she was aged 19 at the home they shared in Inverkip between December 18, 1999 and January 5, 2000.
They also deny claiming £182,000 in benefits fraud by pretending for 17 years from December 1999 to October 2016 she was alive.
The trial before Lord Matthews continues.