Suzanne Pilley trial: Court hears of ‘cleaner’ smell in accused’s car

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A POLICE scene of crime examiner smelt “cleaning fluid or air freshener” in the boot of murder accused David Gilroy’s car which lingered for days, a court has heard.

Mark Heron said that he detected the “fresh, clean fragrance” after opening the boot of the Vauxhall Vectra while describing the rest of the interior as “not particularly clean”.

The court heard that dogs trained to track dead bodies “showed interest” in the boot of the car, which had been seized by detectives after Suzanne Pilley vanished, but forensic experts could find no fibre evidence that the missing bookkeeper was kept inside it.

Two specialist “cadaver dogs” also reacted to three different areas in the garage used by Ms Pilley and Gilroy’s city centre employers.

Mr Heron told the High Court in Edinburgh that the animals were trained to freeze or sit down when they picked up the scent of a body.

He said that he led a team tasked with examining the garage of Infrastructure Management Ltd (IML) in Thistle Street. He carried out the first of up to 15 visits to the garage on May 9, 2010, five days after Ms Pilley was last seen alive.

Mr Heron, 47, said: “The dog made its way round the garage sniffing the garage floor and corners, piping, ducts, all those sorts of items.

“The dog, I can’t remember if it sat down or paused at three specific areas within the garage area.”

The areas were next to the doorway leading to stairs up to IML’s office, and parts of the cement floor of two parking bays in the garage.

Later that day, Mr Heron said he visited the police’s secure garage in Sighthill with the two dog handlers to examine Gilroy’s car.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC asked what he experienced when he opened the boot and he said: “I could smell either a cleaning fluid or an air freshener-type smell.”

He said on a subsequent visit to the vehicle, seized by police at around 5am on May 6, he again detected it, adding: “I am 100 per cent certain I could smell it.”

Mr Heron said one of the dogs went into the boot and “showed interest in two areas”. He added: “My observation was that the top right hand corner and the left front corner the dog paused and showed interest in these areas.”

Mr Heron said numerous forensic checks had been conducted in the Thistle Street garage. Defence counsel Jack Davidson QC said there was no forensic link from the examination of the stairway, basement and garage to Gilroy in relation to the inquiry. Mr Heron replied: “Not as far as I am aware.”

Mr Heron agreed that the forensic investigation had been “extensive and detailed”, including 209 tapings to pick up fibres from every inch of the Vectra’s boot, but none was linked to Ms Pilley that he was aware of.

Mr Prentice asked Mr Heron whether a waterproof jacket would shed many fibres, an item of clothing Ms Pilley was wearing shortly before she disappeared. Mr Heron replied: “It would shed very little.”

Gilroy, 49, of Silverknowes Brae, has denied murdering Ms Pilley, 38, on May 4, 2010, at Thistle Street, or elsewhere in Scotland.

Part of the charge alleges that he concealed her body within the premises of IML and transported it to various locations in Scotland in the Vectra’s boot. He is also alleged to have bought air fresheners.

The trial continues.