A man who murdered a vulnerable woman before participating in a £182,000 benefits scam is “categorically” refusing to settle a proceeds of crime action with prosecutors.
Lawyers for Edward Cairney, 79, wanted to discuss the possibility with him of paying cash to prosecutors to bring the matter to an end before a full court hearing.
They have been instructed in a case which was raised against Cairney and his co-accused, Avril Jones, 61, following their convictions for murder.
The pair were jailed for life in 2019 for killing Margaret Fleming in Inverkip, Inverclyde, two decades ago.
The duo were supposed to look after Ms Fleming.
However, Jones continued to claim £182,000 in benefits 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. Her body has never been found.
On Monday, defence advocate Mark Moir told judge Lord Sandison that his client is unwilling to discuss bringing the case to a conclusion.
Mr Moir added: “He categorically refuses to enter into any discussion about any settlement in this case.”
Cairney and Jones are currently serving life sentences for murdering 19-year-old Ms Fleming sometime between December 1999 and January 2000.
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 Crown are seeking £182,000 in benefits which were paid to Cairney and Jones in Ms Fleming’s absence.
At a hearing last December, Mr Moir told judge Lord Burns that he was finding it very difficult to obtain instructions from Cairney.
He said: “He is not a well man at all. When I saw him last week he had deteriorated further to the extent that I found it extremely difficult to get anything resembling legal instructions.
“He is 79-years of age; he is in a wheelchair and he has multiple other health problems.”
Jones’ advocate, Victoria Dow, told the court at an earlier hearing that her client was “keen” to settle the proceeds of crime action.
However, she is unable to do this until Cairney agrees or is made the subject of a court ruling.
At an earlier hearing, Mr Moir said Cairney refuses to leave his cell and had significant health problems. But a psychiatrist who assessed him concluded he is fit to participate in the case.
On Monday, prosecutor Dan Byrne asked Lord Sandison to continue the case to a full hearing.
Lord Sandison agreed and set proceedings for December 9 and December 10 at the High Court in Edinburgh.
A procedural case will take place at the court in October 2021.
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