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RENEE AND ANDREW MACRAE: Convicted criminal claims he was asked to kill the mother and son, the High Court at Inverness hears

By Ali Morrison

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The High Court in Inverness.
The High Court in Inverness.

A convicted criminal told police he was to be paid cash to douse Renee and Andrew with acid and kill them by William MacDowell.

The High Court in Inverness heard that Dennis Tyronney wrote to the fomer Northern Constabulary in May 2005 to tell them about the proposition put to him, he said, in the summer of 1976.

Tyronney was an employee of Mrs MacRae's husband's building firm in Inverness at the time but it wasn't until he saw newspaper photographs of her estranged husband, Gordon, and William MacDowell that he put a face to the name.

He said the person who offered to pay him more than £500 to throw acid was MacDowell, Mrs MacRae's secret lover.

MacDowell denies murdering the 36-year-old housewife and her son at the Dalmagarry lay-by on November 12, 1976.

Mrs MacRae's son Andrew.
Mrs MacRae's son Andrew.

He is also accused of disposing of their bodies, burning the car, destroying other evidence, and disposing of items including a blue cross pushchair and a Volvo estate boot hatch.

MacDowell has lodged special defences of alibi claiming he was elsewhere in Inverness that night and blames Mrs MacRae's husband for the murders.

The court heard that Tyronney, now deceased, wrote to Northern Constabulary telling them that a company management man had approached him and knew he had been in jail.

The senior investigating officer for the reinvestigation, Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes read out the letter to advocate depute Alex Prentice KC: "He asked if I would kill someone else. I said I would not stoop that low – not for a mill (million). He wanted me to douse them in acid. I refused point blank. He said it was the wife and bairn. I thought it was Gordie (Gordon MacRae). A few weeks later I saw Gordon MacRae. It was not the man. He told me if I talked to anyone I would be in hot water and just to be quiet.

"I might be a lot of things but I won't be a killer."

Tyronney later gave a statement to police admitting he was a car thief and housebreaker.

Renee MacRae.
Renee MacRae.

He said: "He said I would get £500 but that was only part of the payment. But £500 would be up front. He told me not to say anything or my life would be in danger."

MacDowell's defence counsel, Murray McAra KC, asked DCI Geddes whether, of the 1548 individuals who gave statements, "did anyone mention Dennis Tyronney?"

DCI Geddes replied: "No."

The detective also agreed with the lawyer that there was an inconsistency between the letter and the statement.

DCI Geddes was also asked if, in his reinvestigation, "would it be right that the sole interest and focus was on Bill MacDowell?"

DCI Geddes replied: "No, we went in with an open mind and there was scrutiny of other people."

Retired journalist Stuart Lindsay also told the court how he and other colleagues went to interview MacDowell eight days after Renee and Andrew MacRae went missing, after learning he was Mrs MacRae's boyfriend.

He said: "He volunteered information that he didn't think Mrs MacRae and the wee boy were dead.

"He explained that she would phone him and let it ring twice to let him know to get in touch with her. He said the phone signalling had happened twice since she disappeared.

"It was the first thing I had heard that this woman may be alive. I asked him 'have you told the police this?' He answered: 'It must have slipped my mind.' "

The court was also told that a BMW expert thought that the fire in Mrs MacRae's car had been started using its cigarette lighter and that a bottle containing some paraffin was found at the scene, some days later.

Mr Prentice KC indicated that he expected to close the Crown case on Monday.

The trial continues.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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