Did Angus Sinclair kill Edinburgh mum Helen Kane?

The murder of Helen Kane in 1970 remains unsolved
The murder of Helen Kane in 1970 remains unsolved
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WORLD’S End killer Angus Sinclair was investigated by police in connection with the 1970 death of an Edinburgh mother of four, seven years before he committed the notorious double murders.

The convicted killer was hauled in for questioning by detectives probing the shocking murder of 25-year-old mum-of-four Helen Kane, whose battered and near naked body was found dumped on a Dumbiedykes building site in May 1970.

Sinclair, however, protested his innocence and provided an alibi backed up by a close family member. With no modern DNA forensics and no eye witnesses, Sinclair was eliminated from the inquiry.

No-one has ever been charged with the Craigmillar mother’s murder and the case remains one of Lothian’s outstanding “unsolved” crimes.

However, a retired senior police officer linked to the World’s End investigation, suspects Sinclair may well have been responsible for Mrs Kane’s death and a number of other murders – possibly as many as a further eight.

“Personally, I think he went on a killing spree. I think he has links to ten murders, including Christine Eadie and Helen Scott,” said former Detective Superintendent Allan Jones. “In terms of offenders that I have dealt with, he is the worst ever.

“He is calculating, everything he has done was planned. He choreographed everything in his mind before he did it. That sets him apart from people who have done it on the spur of the moment as a result of anger.

“I think he is responsible for other murders.”

Sinclair’s name has been linked with four other murders of young women in the West of Scotland in the Seventies and that of a former friend, Glasgow pornographer Eddie Cotongo.

However, while DNA evidence proved vital in finally securing his conviction for the World’s End case, senior officers agree that it was largely down to a lucky break in the way material containing potential genetic evidence was carefully stored down the years.

And despite an attempt to pinpoint vital DNA evidence in the case of one unsolved murder – Glasgow woman Anna Kenny, whose body was found near the Highland beauty spot Sinclair visited on his honeymoon – Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland has confirmed that there are no Crown Office plans to bring further charges against Sinclair at this time.

Convicted child killer Sinclair was living in Edinburgh at the time when Helen Kane’s near naked body was found just half a mile from his Southside home.

In striking similarities to the World’s End murders – which took its name from the Royal Mile pub where Christine Eadie and Helen Scott were last seen drinking together – Mrs Kane had also been enjoying a Saturday night out at local pubs when she met her killer.

She left friends and her husband Joe Kane, at around 11.25pm in Duke Street, Leith. A woman like her was later seen helped into a taxi by a man, who then got in and the vehicle headed towards Easter Road.

Later a couple was seen in Holyrood Park in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat – not far from where her lifeless body would be discovered the next morning.

Sinclair, recently released from Saughton jail after serving six years of a ten-year sentence for murdering an eight-year-old Glasgow girl, was living in nearby Hill Place – less than half a mile from where Mrs Kane’s body would be found next day by a 25-year-old computer programmer, Christopher Holmes.

Mrs Kane, of Greendykes Terrace, Craigmillar, had been married to husband Joe, a hospital porter, for seven years and they had four young children. Despite police appeals for help tracking down her killer, no-one has been brought to justice.

Retired Detective Superintendent Jones, 52, who led the World’s End investigation at the time of the 2007 trial which ended dramatically when the case collapsed, says Sinclair was quizzed at the time by police investigating Helen’s murder.

“She [Helen Kane] was intercepted on her way home. She was taken to a construction site at the base of Arthur’s Seat, we think sexually assaulted and killed by being struck over the head with a stone or a rock because there were no ligatures involved,” he says.

“It was in close proximity to where he [Sinclair] stayed. He would have been released from prison in 1968. He did six years for killing an eight year old which is quite incredible.

“He came out and worked in Edinburgh at a paint suppliers, met his wife in Edinburgh and they lived together in Hill Place.

“Obviously, when the investigation took place, he was questioned about it. He denied it, gave an alibi and consequently disappeared from Edinburgh within weeks through to Glasgow.”

The alibi, he adds, was provided by someone close to Sinclair. He could not confirm whether the alibi was courtesy of his brother-in-law Gordon Hamilton – who later joined forces with Sinclair in the 
murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott.

Mrs Kane’s murder is among a group of unsolved crimes which police think Sinclair may have been involved in.

Between August and December 1977, Frances Barker, 37, Anna Kenny, 20, Hilda MacAulay, 36, and Agnes Cooney, 23, had all been killed and dumped in strikingly similar circumstances to the Edinburgh victims.

Police are also understood to suspect him of the murder of amateur pornographer Eddie Cotogno, who was beaten to death in Glasgow in July 1979.

However, former Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police Tom Wood, who headed the World’s End inquiry between 2004 and 2007, during which time Sinclair was charged, discounted suggestions of a possible link with Mrs Kane’s murder.

“I looked at Helen Kane’s murder, but that was a completely different modus operandi,” he said

“Helen Kane was killed by having her head slammed by a paving slab. Angus Sinclair when he killed Catherine Rehill and Mary Gallagher strangled them.

“Helen Scott and Christine Eadie . . . all strangled using a ligature.

“You can say ‘well here was this murder and he lived in that area’ but it doesn’t necessarily mean that he did it.”

More victims likely, psychologist says

SINCLAIR is likely to have had many more victims, according to a top psychologist who inspired Robbie Coltrane’s tough-talking character in the 1990s TV drama Cracker.

Forensic psychologist Dr Ian Stephen said: “It is one of those cases where he has got a behaviour, or a type of killing, which has been there since early youth and that is why people are saying there is probably a lot more than we know about.

“It is difficult to pick up as they [serial killers] are usually fairly isolated people. However in this case, Sinclair was a fairly presentable guy when he was younger and had this ability to make an initial impact, which was the way he was able to attract people to him and make them feel safe.”

Dr Stephen said the killer’s behaviour was “very chilling” and Sinclair enjoyed the power he gained.

Dr Stephen said: “He also loves the power of not saying anything to anybody. His interview with the police was classic – it’s almost like a naughty child with the dumb insolence act.”

It was reported yesterday that another high-profile murder case is being considered for retrial but details cannot be released for legal reasons.

Killer could be put back in dock

SCOTLAND’s most senior prosecutor has said he would put Sinclair back in the dock if there is enough evidence for further charges.

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC, who led the prosecution case, said the killer could face further murder charges if a case could be brought against him – despite being given the longest prison sentence in Scottish legal history.

He said: “If the right evidence emerges, I would put him back in the dock.”

Mulholland said it was “a privilege” to lead the case against Sinclair after making a vow to the victims’ families to help them get justice. He said: “I made a personal promise to the families that I would do all I could and I had every intention of keeping it, but I didn’t change the law. When the law changed, I felt it was my duty as Lord Advocate to prosecute the case.”

“But I was aware it was a privilege to cross-examine him, to be the person that asked questions of Angus Sinclair. As a prosecutor you put the difficult questions to him, and you hear the inconsistencies, the implausibility of his story, the weakness of his account.”