Carers to stand trial accused of murdering vulnerable woman 19 years ago

The carers of a woman they are accused of murdering more than 19 years ago are to stand trial in April.

Margaret Fleming (pictured) was reported missing in October 2016 from her home in Inverkip, Inverclyde, but has allegedly not been seen since December 1999.

Edward Cairney, 77, and Avril Jones, 58, are accused of assaulting and murdering Ms Fleming and fraudulently claiming £182,000 in benefits by pretending she was alive.

Their lawyers entered not guilty pleas to the charges on their behalf during a hearing at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday, which Cairney did not attend.

It is alleged that Cairney and Jones abducted Ms Fleming at her home at Seacroft in Inverkip on various occasions between November 1, 1997 and January 5, 2000, and that they locked her in a room, cut her hair, and bound her arms and wrists with tape and other materials.

The pair are accused of assaulting and murdering Ms Fleming, who would now be 38, at the property in Inverkip or elsewhere in Scotland at some point between December 18, 1999 and January 5, 2000.

It is also alleged that they pretended to officials from the Department for Work and Pensions that Ms Fleming was alive between December 18, 1999 and October 28, 2016 and claimed £182,000 by fraud.

They also face two charges of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

It is alleged that they disposed of, destroyed or concealed the remains and personal effects of Ms Fleming between December 18, 1999 and October 26, 2017.

They are also accused of trying to board a train to London on October 25, 2017, while carrying £3,500 and the keys to a safe deposit box in London which contained £27,000.

Cairney is also accused of assaulting another woman at a property in Inverkip on November 26, 1997.

Lord Matthews set a trial date for April 23.

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