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Carers found guilty of murdering missing Margaret Fleming

Edward Cairney and Avril Jones killed the woman at their house in Inverkip, Inverclyde.

The carers of missing Margaret Fleming have been found guilty of her murder.

Edward Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 59, killed her at their house in Seacroft, Inverkip, between December 18, 1999, and January 5, 2000.

Ms Fleming, who would now be 38, has not been seen for more than 19 years and lived in "disgusting and uninhabitable" conditions when she stayed with her killers.

The pair tied her up, cut her hair short and deprived her of food before eventually murdering her.

A jury of eight women and seven men took more than three hours to find Cairney and Jones guilty of murdering Fleming at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday.

The pair face life sentences when they return to court on July 17 and have been remanded in custody.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1438518-fleming-murder-web-of-lies-which-snared-killer-carers/ | default

Superintendent Paul Livingstone said the pair were "scheming" in the build up to Ms Fleming's murder.

He said: "Margaret was a very vulnerable young woman who was manipulated, abused, neglected and ultimately murdered by the two people who should have been looking after her.

"It is clear that one of Cairney and Jones' motivation was money.

"As part of their scheming ways, they also managed to manipulate Margaret's mother, Margaret Cruikshanks, before Cairney assaulted her.

"For many years, Cairney and Jones kept up the pretence that Margaret was still alive, going as far as to write letters claiming to be from her."

House: Fleming had stayed in Seacroft, Inverkip.
House: Fleming had stayed in Seacroft, Inverkip. George Wright

During the trial, the court heard Ms Fleming didn't turn up for a 2012 check-up, which prompted a visit by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Officials were, however, refused entry by Cairney and after claims Ms Fleming was eating out of a dog's bowl, a further investigation was launched.

The inspector said Ms Fleming was someone who was kept as a prisoner, living in "horrific" circumstances.

He said: "Margaret was described as being a funny, caring young woman who, despite having some mild learning difficulties, just wanted to be liked and to have friends.

"She was close to her father who died suddenly before she came to live under the care of Cairney and Jones.

Murderers: The pair will be sentenced next month.
Murderers: The pair will be sentenced next month.

"Margaret had been to James Watt College briefly before Cairney and Jones began to control her life and keep her prisoner within their home in Inverkip.

"She was subjected to daily punishment which included being tied up, having her hair cut short and deprived of food.

"The treatment which she was subjected to can only be described as horrific and the conditions in which she lived in were utterly disgusting and uninhabitable.

"For Cairney and Jones to continue the charade that she was still alive for all these years is abhorrent, with one of their reasons for doing so being for financial gain."

Cairney claimed she regularly returned to their home in Inverkip, Inverclyde, when she needed money.

https://stv.tv/news/west-central/1438514-surrounded-by-squalor-odd-couple-eddie-cairney-and-avril-jones/ | default

He also claimed Ms Fleming, who had learning difficulties and went to live with the couple after her father's death in 1995, fled out of the back door when police first arrived to search the house for her.

In an interview with journalist Russell Findlay, Cariney then said Margaret Fleming was a gang master who regularly travelled in Europe.

He went on to say she was buying and selling drugs, had a number of aliases and was "a frustrated spy".

Officers said Ms Fleming experienced a "living hell" before being murdered by the pair.

Police: Superintendent Paul Livingstone.
Police: Superintendent Paul Livingstone.

The inspector continued: "We will never know just how Margaret was killed. What we do know is that she lived her last days in what can only be described as a living hell. She must have felt that she was alone in the world with no one coming to help her which is just heartbreaking to think of.

"All of the detectives who worked on this complex enquiry were resolute in their aim to secure justice for Margaret. They wanted to be the advocate she never had.

"Margaret was just a young woman when she was murdered.

"Who knows what she could have gone on to achieve in her life if it hadn't been ended so prematurely at the evil and greedy hands of Cairney and Jones."

Search: A major investigation was launched.
Search: A major investigation was launched.

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