Detective says 200 volunteers searched for missing Suzanne Pilley

Suzanne Pilley
Suzanne Pilley
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A SENIOR detective has told a court how 200 volunteers searched for missing book keeper Suzanne Pilley in remote Scots woodland.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Houston, 35, told the High Court in Edinburgh that hundreds of civilians joined the search for the divorcee after she disappeared in May, 2010.

Mr Houston told prosecution lawyer Alex Prentice QC that police searched forest land in Argyll on six different occasions for Suzanne, 38.

But officers were unable to find any trace of the office worker, who was last seen in Edinburgh city centre on May 4, 2010.

DS Houston was giving evidence on the 12th day of the trial of David Gilroy, 49, who denies killing his former partner Suzanne in Thistle Street, Edinburgh, almost two years ago.

The police officer spoke as the jury in the trial were shown stills taken from CCTV cameras of Mr Gilroy travelling to Lochgilphead, Argyll, from Edinburgh.

The images were taken on May 5, 2010 - just 24 hours after Suzanne was last seen making her way to work in the Scottish capital.

Speaking on Tuesday, DS Houston - who also gave evidence earlier in the trial - told Mr Prentice how Lothian and Borders Police looked in forest land in Argyll for Suzanne in the months after she went missing.

DS Houston - who will be promoted to Detective Inspector in the next few weeks - said officers searched for Suzanne on half a dozen occasions in wood land.

During one search, they used 200 volunteers from mountain rescue teams to look for the divorcee.

But he told Mr Prentice that they were unable to find Suzanne.

Advocate Depute Alex Prentice asked DS Houston: “Did you find any trace of Suzanne Pilley?”

DS Houston replied: “No. We did not.”

During evidence, the jury were shown images that were taken from CCTV cameras on the day following Suzanne’s disappearance.

During the initial probe, DS Houston was in charge of recovering evidence from CCTV cameras in the Edinburgh area and Argyll.

The first image - which was captured after 11am - showed David Gilroy’s silver Vauxhall Vectra leaving Thistle Street, Edinburgh.

Another image captured just before 12.10pm, showed Mr Gilroy’s car travelling through Doune, Stirlingshire.

Images were then shown to the jury of Mr Gilroy’s vehicle travelling through Tyndrum, Inverary and Lochgilphead where the man accused of murdering Suzanne visited a school.

The jury were then shown an image of Mr Gilroy’s vehicle travelling through Inverary just before 7pm on the evening of May 5.

The next CCTV image shown to the jury was of Mr Gilroy’s car travelling through Tyndrum just after 9pm.

DS Houston told the court that he thought the journey between Inverary and Tyndrum should have taken less than three quarters of an hour to make.

He told Mr Prentice: “I would imagine it would take around 40 minutes.”

Finally, the jury were shown an image of Mr Gilroy arriving at Corstophine Police station in Edinburgh just after 11.25pm.

The court had heard earlier that Gilroy arrived at the station to give a statement to officers investigating his former partner’s disappearance.

At one point in proceedings on Tuesday, the court was evacuated after a fire alarm sounded in Edinburgh Sheriff Court, the building where the trial is being heard.

Gilroy, of Silverknowes, Edinburgh, denies murdering Suzanne on May 4 2010 at Thistle Street, Edinburgh or at another location in Scotland by a means unknown to the prosecutor.

He has also pleaded not guilty to four other charges which allege he committed a series of criminal acts at different addresses in Scotland between August 2009 to June 2010.

The trial before Lord Bracadale continues.