THERE weren’t that many places for a couple of young female pals to go on a Saturday night.
For a start, Edinburgh in 1977 had no glitzy George Street bars with their crystal chandeliers and stylish décor, bouncers on the door and CCTV watching everyone’s every move.
And even if their meagre wages could have stretched to a meal in a restaurant, the choices were just a smattering of Indian and Italian diners.
The bars that peppered the route of the Royal Mile were basic: wooden stools and stripped floorboards, real ale. The closest customers might get to a fancy cocktail was a half pint of snakebite. But for a blether and a laugh they did the job fine.
Christine Eadie and Helen Scott were in the mood for a celebration that night. The 17-year-olds knew each other from Firrhill High, now they were both striking out into the grown-up world. Both had just started work, their lives stretched ahead of them.
With a couple of other friends, the pals had made their way into a few bars on the Mile before pushing open the doors of The World’s End.
The pub’s name was taken from its location on the very edge of the city’s ancient walls: beyond this point lay a completely different world to the one Edinburgh citizens of a bygone age knew.
But on a misty night in October 1977, when two teenagers ventured inside for a final tipple before closing time, a chain of events would be unleashed which would mean its name would become synonymous with the snuffing out of innocence, dark unworldly deeds of violence and pure evil.
“Behind These Walls is the World’s End” said a sign on the wall. How chilling that sign’s brief statement would eventually prove to be.
Helen had let her parents, Morain and Margaret, know she was heading out for the night. Usually home at Swan Spring Avenue for 11.30pm, she was not one for staying out too late.
Christine, meanwhile, had already struck out in the world. She had left school at 16, was working in a surveyor’s office and was sharing an Abbeyhill flat with an older friend, Toni Wale, 29.
Helen had met up with school pal Jacqueline Ingles for a drink at the Mount Royal Hotel in Princes Street, before the pair made their way to the Grosvenor Bar to catch up with Toni and Christine.
Together, they had nipped in to a few pubs along the Royal Mile. Last orders loomed as they hit the World’s End.
Helen and Christine grabbed one of the few remaining seats. No sooner had they settled, but they had attracted the attention of at least two men in the bar.
Angus Sinclair was no stranger to the Royal Mile and its pubs – he’d lived in Hill Place, just off Nicolson Street, for a few years after serving time in Saughton for brutally killing a little girl by strangling her with the inner tube from a bicycle tyre.
With him was his brother-in-law, Gordon Hamilton. Active in martial arts, he was much younger than his sister’s husband and clearly looked up to him, perhaps relishing his gritty stories and streetwise swagger.
Christine and Helen’s friends were keen to move on. A house party might have sounded tempting, but Christine and Helen decided not to go. Instead they said their farewells to their mates, and prepared to leave into a foggy High Street, in the company of two strangers.
It was around 11.15pm and as the cold air hit, Christine suddenly stumbled. Pc John Rafferty, passing by, knew her and paused to help Helen pull her friend to her feet. Later he glanced back to see them disappearing into the mist accompanied by two men – one he would later identify as almost certainly Angus Sinclair.
For nearly 40 years, what happened next was a terrible mystery, one that would perplex the country’s most skilled detectives, leave mothers and fathers in fear for their teenage girls and plunge two families and the girls’ wide circle of friends into the depths of grief.
Sinclair would claim the girls willingly joined him and his brother-in-law for a double sex session in his caravanette parked under Arthur’s Seat and that he then ended up in East Lothian fishing, blaming Hamilton for the killings.
Morain Scott, a British Telecom sales representative, and wife Margaret waited for Helen’s return.
By Sunday morning, alarm bells were ringing. Mrs Scott rang Jacqueline to see if Helen had slept at her house. When that drew a blank, Jacqueline joined the worried couple at Christine’s flat, where Toni told them neither girl had appeared.
They rang police at Causewayside to report Helen missing and waited for news.
When it came, it would be the worst kind.
A couple strolling between Aberlady and Longniddry made the first terrible discovery.
Christine was found battered and strangled with her own tights. Pants had been stuffed in her mouth and her bra was wrapped around her head.
Four hours later, Helen’s body would be discovered, on farmland six miles inland at Haddington. She too had also been beaten, strangled and was partially naked. Her jeans, shoes and handbag were missing.
Police were under pressure and responded with a massive manhunt. Roadblocks were set up, squaddies in the area were quizzed, drinkers at the World’s End tracked down.
Detectives and forensic scientists searched for evidence. But this was 1977, a world away from an age when men in lab coats might hold the clues, when the tiniest trace of DNA might provide the vital breakthrough.
The scale of the search at a time when paper, pen and filing cabinet were the tools of the trade sounds overwhelming: a total of 150,000 interviews were recorded on 24,000 pages of statements.
There were false leads by the dozen. Thirty anonymous letters suggested possible suspects. Each had to be followed up, including one which claimed two Glasgow men on holiday in Port Seton were responsible – 700 holiday chalets and caravans had to be checked out.
Thirty-seven years, countless hours of police time, thousands of interviews and millions of tears. But Angus Sinclair, World’s End murderer, was not going to get away with it.