THE families of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott today finally have the justice for which they have waited 37 long years.
Angus Sinclair, who detectives believe could be Scotland’s worst serial killer, was found guilty of their brutalrape and murder at the end of a historic trial. He will die in jail, ordered to serve at least 37 years – a sentence whichreflecting every year he has evaded justice for the World’s End killings.
It is the longest minimum sentence ever imposed in Scotland, on a man judge Lord Matthews called “a dangerous predator who is capable of sinking to the depths of depravity”.
After the verdict, Helen’s father, Morain, branded his daughter’s killer a “beast” and said the two girls could finally rest in peace.
Helen’s brother, Kevin, gave the families’ “heartfelt” thanks for the decades of “painstaking” work by police and prosecutors to bring about the verdict.
“Above all, we would like to thank the people of Scotland who refused to let the memory of Helen and Christine fade,” he said. “It was by keeping their memories alive over the last 37 years that we have finally achieved the justice they deserve.”
Yesterday’s verdict at the High Court in Livingston brings to a conclusion one of the country’s most infamous unsolved cases, and marks the first prosecution since changes to Scotland’s double jeopardy law.
It came 37 years and 30 days after the 17-year-olds were last seen leaving the World’s End pub on October 15, 1977. Their bodies were discovered the following day in East Lothian. Both had been bound and strangled with their own underwear.
Sinclair, 69, a serial rapist who has been in jail for more than 30 years, carried out the attacks with his brother-in-law, Gordon Hamilton, who died in 1996.
In the words of the prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, as the girls begged to be freed, Sinclair and Hamilton ended their lives “like something that was wiped off a shoe”.
Advances in DNA analysis provided new evidence which allowed prosecutors to bring Sinclair to trial again following his acquittal in 2007, and the jury of nine women and six men took less than two-and-a-half hours to convict him unanimously of both charges.
Detectives believe he could be responsible for at least six more killings.
Sentencing Sinclair, Lord Matthews said that whatever dreams the girls had for their futures had “turned to nightmares” that night when they left The World’s End, “the name of which has become synonymous with these notorious murders”.
He told Sinclair: “For them at least the nightmare is over, and if they were not resting in peace before today I hope that they are now.
“The nightmare for their families and friends, on the other hand, has gone on from those first awful moments when they heard the news no-one should hear until even now, 37 years later and counting. It will never end.”
Sinclair, a prisoner at Glenochil jail, had denied the charges against him. He submitted three special defences – of incrimination, blaming his brother-in-law; alibi, saying he was fishing near Cockenzie power station at the time; and consent to sexual intercourse.
He claimed that he first had consensual sex with Christine and then Helen in his caravanette in Holyrood Park, and that Hamilton had sex with both girls in the opposite order. He alleged that Hamilton then drove him back to East Lothian so he could continue fishing and that when he left, the girls were “alive and unharmed”.
But, over the 24-day trial – much of it consisting of new evidence from forensic scientists – Sinclair’s story began to unravel. DNA analysis showed Sinclair had touched “most if not all” of the ligatures used to tie the girls up.
During the trial, the court was told about the “terrible and life-changing” effect the murder had on Helen’s family. Her father told the court his wife, Margaret, who died in 1989, was never the same again after their daughter’s death.
Morain Scott, 84, said the death of his daughter marked the start of his wife’s ill health, while he has lived with the loss for more than 30 years and has “just kept going”.
After the verdict, Mr Scott said he would never forget the moment he was forced to identify his daughter’s body.
“It’s justice for the girls, it’s what I’ve always wanted and I promised my late wife I would fight to the end of my days.
“It will be closure I hope for some of my family but it will never be closure for me because I saw Helen that night when she was brought up from East Lothian.
“I’ll never forget as long as I live what I saw that day, what they had done to my beautiful daughter.”
Asked if the girls could now rest in peace, he said: “Yes.”
“The legacy is the double jeopardy Bill which must give hope to other families.”
Kevin Scott joined his father outside the court to read a statement on behalf of both families, flanked by his daughter, Aimee Helen Scott – who turns 17 on Sunday – and Christine’s brother, Hamilton Craig.
He said: “We have waited 37 years for justice. Today that wait has ended and we finally have justice for Helen and Christine.”
After the verdict, Mr Mulholland thanked all of those who had helped bring Sinclair to justice, particularly “the thousands of police officers who have worked on the case over the years”. He took the unusual step of reading the names of all the senior investigating officers involved to the court, pointing out that many were now dead.
He said: “The police have never ceased in their endeavours to bring the girls’ murderers to justice.
“There are no words, no words whatsoever, that I can say to the court on behalf of the families of both girls that would do justice to the loss felt by them for their beloved daughters and what happened to them and the 37 years they have had to wait for justice.”