HMP Edinburgh prisoner who killed a vulnerable teenager to claim her benefits dies behind bars

Killer dies in Edinburgh prison
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A murderer who killed a vulnerable teenager and lived off her benefits payments for almost 18 years has died in prison.

Edward Cairney, 82, a prisoner at HMP Edinburgh, formerly Saughton Prison, died on October 15. Cairney and his partner, Avril Jones, were convicted of murdering vulnerable teenager Margaret Fleming, who was last seen alive aged 19, at a family party in December 1999.

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Margaret had learning difficulties and lived with Cairney and Jones at a squalid cottage in Inverkip, Inverclyde, after they acted as her "carers" when her father died.

Edward (Eddie) Cairney, arriving at Glasgow High Court to face allegations of murder with his co-accused Avril Jones over the death of Margaret Fleming in Inverkip. April 23, 2019. Photo by SWNS.Edward (Eddie) Cairney, arriving at Glasgow High Court to face allegations of murder with his co-accused Avril Jones over the death of Margaret Fleming in Inverkip. April 23, 2019. Photo by SWNS.
Edward (Eddie) Cairney, arriving at Glasgow High Court to face allegations of murder with his co-accused Avril Jones over the death of Margaret Fleming in Inverkip. April 23, 2019. Photo by SWNS.

The couple murdered Margaret between December 1999 and January 2000 and Jones went onto claim benefits worth £182,000, while the pair staged an elaborate cover-up, which police described as "greedy" and "fantastical". Margaret was reported missing in 2016, and her body has never been found.

The killers were convicted at the High Court in Glasgow in 2019, and detectives issued an appeal to Cairney and Jones to reveal where Margaret's remains were, on what should have been her 39th birthday.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: "Edward Cairney, 82, a prisoner at HMP Edinburgh has died on 15 October 2023. He was convicted at Glasgow High Court in 2019.

"Police Scotland have been advised and the matter reported to the Procurator Fiscal. A fatal accident inquiry will be held in due course."