Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Missing Advocate Depute Mackay turns up after fleeing World's End trial collapse

The Crown Office's chief prosecutor in the World's End murder trial, who apparently fled Scotland before the Judge dismissed the case, has turned up well.

Could this be a new trend of lawyers fleeing the barn when cases don't go as expected ?

The Herald reports :

Missing prosecutor "safe"

A senior prosecutor reported missing as the World's End murder trial collapsed in Edinburgh has been is safe.

Police have now ended their search for advocate-depute Alan Mackay and are satisfied he has come to no harm.

The 45-year-old had been leading evidence for the Crown in the case against convicted sex killer Angus Sinclair, 62, when it was thrown out of the High Court by Lord Clarke for lack of evidence.

Sinclair was charged with raping and murdering two 17-year-old girls after they visited the World's End pub in Edinburgh 30 years ago.

His acquittal sparked strong condemnation of the prosecution from politicians, one of whom accused lawyers of failing to present crucial material.

Lothian and Borders Police said today they had learned that the prosecutor was safe and well.

"He is no longer being treated as a missing person," a statement said.

Mr Mackay was reported missing by court officials at 11.45am yesterday.

He rang his wife at around 4pm from an unknown location, telling her he was safe but that he "needed some time", according to police.

It is understood he made contact with his family a second time today.

The Crown Office insisted last night there had been enough evidence to indict Sinclair in the World's End case.

But Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini has come under pressure to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the matter.

Conservative justice spokesman Bill Aitken said the trial collapse had raised issues about Crown Office decisions and the criminal justice system in general.

The MSP said: "No one expects it to be an easy task to prosecute a case where the crimes occurred 30 years ago. That challenge must be fairly and realistically acknowledged.

"However, when a case such as this has been investigated so meticulously and with such diligence, the Crown Office owes some explanation as to why it took the original decision to prosecute if the case was never likely to reach the stage of consideration of evidence by the jury.

"It is one thing for all possible evidence to be presented and the jury left to make a finding on that.

"It is more fundamental if, due to an inadequacy of evidence, the trial collapses because there is no case to answer.

"In the first instance the Lord Advocate must make a statement to Parliament at the earliest opportunity."

Angus Sinclair is serving a life sentence in Peterhead prison for killing 17-year-old Mary Gallagher in November 1978.

He also has a string of convictions for sexual offences including the sexual assault and strangulation of eight-year-old Catherine Reehill in 1961.

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