Margaret Fleming’s killers face £182k benefits fraud bill

Prosecutors are trying to confiscate cash from the couple jailed for murdering a missing woman.

Edward Cairney, Margaret Fleming and Avril Jones.
Edward Cairney, Margaret Fleming and Avril Jones.

Prosecutors want to confiscate £182,000 from a couple jailed for murdering missing Margaret Fleming.

Crown Office lawyers have launched proceedings at the High Court in Edinburgh against ‘carers’ Edward Cairney, 77, and 59-year-old Avril Jones.

The pair are currently serving life sentences for the murder of Ms Fleming, 19, between December 1999 and January 2000.

Jones claimed £182,000 of benefits in her victim’s name until it finally emerged that Ms Fleming was missing in October 2016.

Police suspected the duo took Ms Fleming’s life at their cottage in Inverkip, Renfrewshire, however her body has never been found.

Judge Lord Matthews told the couple they’d have to serve at least 14 years before they’d be able to apply for parole.

He told them: “Only you two know the truth. Only you know where her remains are. 

“Margaret Fleming was a vulnerable young woman with evident difficulties.

“She was in your care and you breached the trust placed in you.”

The two criminals face the prospect of having to hand the cash back to the Crown who have launched proceeds of crime proceedings against them.

On Monday, Cairney’s advocate Frances Connor told judge Lord Pentland that it would take six weeks for his legal team to prepare their responses to Crown demands.

Jones’s lawyer John McElroy also said he needed time to prepare the case.

Lord Pentland then continued the case, which will next call at the High Court in Edinburgh in mid-October.

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