Corstorphine Hill murder accused saw News appeal

This facial reconstruction image  was released by ''Police Scotland detectives in a bid to identify remains found on Corstorphine Hill. They were later identified as those of Philomena Dunleavy.
This facial reconstruction image was released by ''Police Scotland detectives in a bid to identify remains found on Corstorphine Hill. They were later identified as those of Philomena Dunleavy.
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A SHOPKEEPER has told how he discussed a reconstruction of a dead woman’s face printed on the front page of the Evening News with the son accused of murdering her.

Adil Hussan runs the post office located below James Dunleavy’s flat in Balgreen Road and befriended his neighbour, who was a regular customer.

The 30-year-old said that Dunleavy commented on the “marvel” of technology after spotting the image of his mother on newspapers sitting on the shop counter.

Mr Hussan said that Dunleavy praised the work done by Dundee University whose experts provided police with the facial reconstruction, later released to the News.

Dunleavy - also known as Seamus Dunleavy - is accused of murdering and dismembering his 66-year-old mum, Philomena, and burying her remains on Corstorphine Hill.

Mr Hussan told the murder trial at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday that he had been the shopkeeper and postmaster at Balgreen Post Office since 2005.

He told the jury that he had known Dunleavy for about 18 months and even invited him to his wedding party in Dundee on May 28 last year.

Mr Hussan said that Dunleavy had called into the shop on July 2 when the Evening News featured the reconstruction image of a woman whose remains had been found in the nearby nature reserve.

The image was shown to the jury and Mr Hussan was given a copy of the paper to confirm where he had seen the picture.

Mr Hussan said that Dunleavy made a “passaway comment” about the picture after seeing a News on the counter. He added: “He said something along the lines of, ‘the marvels of reconstruction’, something like that. About the university and computer-regeneration. I don’t remember exactly.”

Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, asked him: “Did he suggest that it looked like anyone?”

Mr Hussan replied: “No.”

Later the court heard that forensic scientists searched Dunleavy’s flat, but found no clues. Chemicals and special lighting were used in the property and floor coverings were taken up.

Only two tiny spots of blood, matching the DNA of Mrs Dunleavy, from Dublin, were found.

Forensic scientist Amanda Pirie said that the chemical Luminol was used to check for blood during searches last July. She told the trial it was impossible to tell when, or how, the two blood spots found in a bedroom had got there.

Dunleavy, 40, is accused of battering his mother to death between April 30 and May 7 last year. The murder charge alleges that he inflicted “blunt force trauma” on his mother by means unknown in his Balgreen Road flat, compressed her throat, and cut off her head and legs with a blade and something like a saw.

The trial continues.

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com