Sean Flynn kills himself while on the run facing re-trial for murdering Scottish mum Louise Tiffney in Edinburgh 19 years ago
Double jeopardy murder accused Sean Flynn has taken his own life after going on the run from Germany to Spain to avoid facing a retrial over the death of his mother, Louise Tiffney, 19 years ago.
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Flynn, 38, was due to appear at the High Court in Livingston to face a retrial under Scotland’s relatively new double jeopardy laws accused of murdering Ms Tiffney in 2002, but failed to appear and a warrant for his arrest was issued on Tuesday.
It is understood the fresh case against Flynn relied heavily on DNA samples and soil analysis, which linked his Nissan Almera car and the site where Ms Tiffney’s remains were discovered just yards from the A198 in East Lothian.
Experts whose evidence helped to bring World’s End serial killer Angus Sinclair to justice after 37 years after he and his brother-in-law raped and murdered teenagers Christine Eadie and Helen Scott, both 17, in 1977, were consulted by officers re-investigating Flynn.
Forensic soil scientists from the James Hutton Institute proved Helen had walked across the same field her body was dumped in and nailed Sinclair, who had claimed four lives in the 1970s and died aged 73 while serving a minimum 37 years, Scotland’s longest ever sentence, in March 2019.
In a statement, after news of Flynn’s death emerged, his solicitor Aamer Anwar said he was advised on Friday morning that “he was, according to the police, found dead in Spain, after taking his own life”.
Mr Anwar added: “Until recently Mr Flynn had resided in Berlin.
“Any loss of life is a tragedy. Sean Flynn’s next of kin has been informed and there will be no further comment.”
Window dresser Ms Tiffney, 43, disappeared after leaving her home in Dean Path, Edinburgh, in May 2002.
Her remains were found by a cyclist near a stately home, Gosford House, in Longniddry, in April 2017.
Flynn had been due to stand trial accused of murdering his mother and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by putting her body in the boot of a car, driving to a wooded area and disposing of it.
At a previous hearing in January, the QC representing him said Flynn denied the charges.
In 2005, Flynn walked free from the High Court in Perth after a jury returned a ‘not proven’ verdict following 22 days of proceedings.
Neighbours had told a jury that on the night she was last seen, they had heard a row in Ms Tiffney’s house followed by a scream and then silence.
CCTV footage showed Flynn's car leaving Edinburgh in the direction of East Lothian and returning just over an hour later and forensics examiners found her blood in the boot.
Flynn admitted that he had argued with his mother, but denied killing her and said he had never left the house on the night she disappeared.
After the verdict was delivered, Ms Tiffney's sister June said: “There is no justice for Louise.”
Another relative said: "I hope there will be some closure for his family, but now they will be left wondering what happened to Louise.”
Following the discovery of Ms Tiffney’s remains, the-then Lord Advocate, James Wolffe QC, was granted permission by the High Court to set aside the acquittal verdict and re-indict Flynn for murder.
Permission to re-try an accused under double jeopardy legislation relies on fresh evidence unavailable at the time of the original proceedings. And like the case against Sinclair, prosecutors were set to use fresh forensic evidence in a bid to bring Flynn to justice.
The lead detective on the case said at the time her remains were discovered that Ms Tiffney's family had given up hope of ever finding the mother of two alive.
Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie said her sisters told him they were "relieved" at the news.
He said: "So rather than this being bad news, it may even be considered good news for them because they might be able to bring this lengthy, lengthy event to some kind of conclusion."
“This is very much a murder inquiry and there was a comprehensive investigation done at the time of Louise’s disappearance, which we will be continuing with the added benefit of forensic examination.”
Following her disappearance in 2002, up to 40 officers worked the case trying to piece together Ms Tiffney's last moments.
A copy of her death certificate states the cause as "unascertained pending investigation" and Dundee University's world-renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification was called in to help.
Its team helped solve the murder of Philomena Dunleavy after the 66-year-old's beheaded and dismembered body was found in a shallow grave on Corstorphine Hill in 2013. In a macabre twist, Ms Dunleavy was slain by her own son, James, then 41, after a row because he wanted to see inside her to see if she was human
A year on from the discovery of Ms Tiffneys’ remains, detectives re-appealed for any witnesses to come forward while a team of forensic scientists helped them build a case.
Flynn, who moved to Germany following his acquittal, was re-indicted and entered a not-guilty plea through his QC, Brian McConnachie, during a brief hearing at the High Court in Glasgow in January this year.
His re-trial was pencilled in for three weeks as Flynn denied murdering Ms Tiffney by assaulting her by means unknown to the prosecutor.
He was also charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice on May 28, 2002, by concealing her body in the boot of a Nissan Almera, driving the car to a wooded area beside the A198 near Gosford House, East Lothian, and disposing of the body there and then washing and cleaning the boot.
In a chilling twist in 2009, the bodies of a 44-year-old man and his mother, aged 80, were discovered in the same block of flats where Ms Tiffney was last seen alive. Police treated the case as a murder and suicide.