A murder accused told a reporter he believed Renee MacRae was still alive because he heard the secret phone signal they used to contact each other twice after she vanished, a court was told.
Retired journalist Stuart Lindsay said he went to interview William MacDowell eight days after Mrs MacRae and her three-year-old son Andrew vanished in November 1976.
He and other media colleagues had just learned that the missing 36-year-old housewife’s secret lover was MacDowell.
Mr Lindsay told a jury at the High Court in Inverness: “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’.”
Paraffin found at scene of car fire
MacDowell is accused of assaulting Andrew and the boy’s mum at a lay-by on the A9 trunk road near Dalmagarry, Inverness-shire, or elsewhere, on November 12 1976.
He is charged with causing them injury by unknown means, as a result of which they died, and thereby murdering them.
The accused is also charged with attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of the two bodies, which have never been recovered, by means unknown.
It’s alleged MacDowell also disposed of a pushchair, set fire to Renee’s BMW car and disposed of a boot hatch from his Volvo company car to conceal the alleged crimes.
He denies all the charges and has lodged special defences of alibi, claiming he was elsewhere in Inverness that night.
MacDowell blames Mrs MacRae’s building company director husband Gordon for the alleged murders.
On the eighth day of the murder trial, the court heard that a BMW expert thought that the fire in Renee’s car had been started using its cigarette lighter.
A bottle containing some paraffin was found at the scene some days later, the jury was told.
Earlier, jurors heard that a now-deceased convicted criminal told police he was offered cash to douse Renee MacRae and her son with acid and kill them by the man now accused of their murders.
He said the person who offered to pay him more than £500 to throw acid was MacDowell.
Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC said that he expected to close the Crown’s case against Mr MacDowell on Monday September 26.
The trial, before Lord Armstrong, continues.