The man accused of murdering Renee MacRae was seen cleaning the boot of his car in the days following her disappearance, a court heard today.
Building company secretary William MacDowell, known as Bill, had just been sacked by his boss – and Renee’s husband – Gordon MacRae, who had discovered that the pair were having a secret affair.
Mr MacRae had also learned that MacDowell was the father of Renee’s three-year-old son Andrew.
The jury at the High Court in Inverness has been told that mother and child have not been seen since November 12 1976 – three days before MacDowell’s dismissal.
Renee had told friends she was going to her sister’s home in Kilmarnock for the weekend. But others claim she said that she was intending on spending the weekend with MacDowell.
MacDowell, now aged 80, denies murdering Renee and Andrew and disposing of their bodies at an unknown location.
He also denies destroying evidence by burning her blue BMW car, which was discovered in an A9 lay-by, 12 miles south of Inverness.
MacDowell has lodged special defences of alibi that he was elsewhere at the time and that Renee’s estranged husband, Gordon, along with unknown others were responsible for the crimes.
Former employee’s evidence from beyond the grave
A former employee of Gordon MacRae, Kenneth Rock, told police that he saw MacDowell cleaning his company car in the days following the disappearances of Renee and Andrew.
Mr Rock, who is now deceased, had responsibility for the company cars and had been told by his boss to get MacDowell’s Volvo returned following his sacking.
Former Detective Constable Ruth Mason, who was part of the re-investigation of the mother and child’s disappearance, code-named Operation Abermule, interviewed Mr Rock before his death and read out sections of his statement to the jury today.
Mr Rock told her: “Gordon asked me to get the car returned from Bill MacDowell. He refused to bring it in. He was cleaning it out and said he would return it when he had finished.
“He didn’t say why. He was scrubbing it out. The boot was up. I think it was handed over to you people (the police).”
The trial, before Lord Armstrong, continues.