Renee MacRae murder trial: Accused man will not give evidence, court told

William MacDowell is on trial at the High Court in Inverness, accused of murdering Mrs MacRae and their three-year-old son Andrew in 1976.

Renee and Andrew MacRae
Renee and Andrew MacRae

A man accused of murdering his lover and their young child will not give evidence in his defence, a court has heard.

William MacDowell, 80, denies murdering 36-year-old Renee MacRae and their son, Andrew MacRae, three, at a layby south of Inverness on November 12 1976.

Murray Macara KC, defending, told the jury at the High Court in Inverness that his client will not be giving evidence in the trial.

The jury, however, heard from Kenneth Goudie, MacDowell’s son-in-law, who told the court he has never discussed the case with MacDowell, or his mother-in-law, Rosemary.

Inverness stock
William MacDowell is on trial at the High Court in Inverness (Jane Barlow/PA)

The 59-year-old, told the court he had lived with the MacDowells at the Crook Inn, in Peeblesshire, for about three months and during that time was asked about the case by the pub’s handyman, Mitchell Yuill.

The court heard the pair were having a few drinks at the bar after work, and the late Mr Yuill told him: “I believe your father-in-law is quite famous up in your part of the world.”

The motor trade worker said he was asked by Mr Yuill about the MacRae disappearance, but he did not engage with him.

He told the court that he, Mr Yuill and MacDowell had gone north to the MacDowells’ old home in Nairnside, near Inverness, to move some plants in a Ford Capri, but in their journey there was “nothing of note”.

Dr Alfred Gamblen, Mrs MacRae’s GP, told the court that in the period leading up to her disappearance he saw a man with a handlebar moustache, like the one in police photofits at the time, in a car outside his View Place practice in Inverness.

The court heard Dr Gamblen, who knew Mrs MacRae both socially and as her GP, went inside to find them.

“There was a senior receptionist and two people in the waiting room. Renee MacRae was one and her son, I think Andrew, was there,” the court was told.

He said the man outside in the car had a girlfriend at the surgery, and he told the police at the time about the sighting via a confidential phoneline in order to not jeopardise the man, whom he identified as a football goalkeeper in one of the Highland leagues.

George Gordon, who was going for dinner at the Meallmore Lodge, near Inverness, on the evening Mrs MacRae disappeared, said he saw an empty BMW outside the hotel.

He, his wife and their friends were in the lounge and he went for some drinks where he saw a woman he identified as Mrs MacRae at the bar by herself.

The 75-year-old said he noticed her sheepskin jacket and blonde hair, and told the court he did not see a child with her.

MacDowell, of Penrith, Cumbria, is on trial charged with assaulting Mrs MacRae and Andrew at the Dalmagarry layby on the A9 trunk road south of Inverness, or elsewhere, by means unknown, and as a result murdering them.

He is also accused of disposing of the bodies of Mrs MacRae and her son and also disposing of a boot hatch from his Volvo car to defeat the ends of justice, which he denies.

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination and alibi, part of which is he was at the Mercury Motor Inn, Inverness, that evening before going home via his work and a shop.

The trial, before Lord Armstrong, continues.

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