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HIGH COURT IN INVERNESS: Estranged husband of Renee MacRae gives evidence in trial of William MacDowell

By Ali Morrison

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

Gordon MacRae said he never felt he was a suspect in the case.

William MacDowell is accused of killing Renee MacRae (36) and her three-year-old son Andrew in November 1976.

He has denied the charges against him and lodged a special defence of incrimination, naming Mr MacRae and unknown others of being responsible

Retired building firm boss Gordon MacRae (85) was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of MacDowell, his former company secretary.

Counsel for MacDowell (80), Murray MacAra KC, cross-examined Mr MacRae and asked him: "Did you feel at any stage that the police suspected that you were involved in their disappearance?"

Mr MacRae replied: "No. Not at all."

He also denied consulting a solicitor about divorcing his wife after learning that she was pregnant and he was not the father. He confirmed that his wife had also had a miscarriage and an abortion.

He said: "I hardly knew Andrew. There was no animosity but I find it difficult to remember anything about Andrew. We got to the stage that we had to live separately."

Renee MacRae.
Renee MacRae.

Mr MacRae confirmed that he had told his wife that it would have been "unacceptable" if she was involved with an employee but was unsure if he had said the person would be dismissed.

The court heard that MacDowell was sacked by Mr MacRae three days after the disappearance of Renee and Andrew, when he learned of the betrayal.

"I asked him if he could help the police in any way he should do so," Mr MacRae said.

"He didn't say a word the whole time. If he was innocent, he would have said 'Yes Gordon, what can I do to help?'"

In evidence in chief, Mr MacRae told advocate depute Alex Prentice KC that he and his wife were "always amicable. But it was not an intimate relationship."

Andrew MacRae.
Andrew MacRae.

Asked if he was keen to maintain their support, he replied: "No question about it. I wanted to make sure she lived a comfortable life."

The jury heard that he gifted Mrs MacRae a detached bungalow in Cradlehall and a blue BMW, which was found ablaze at the Dalmagarry lay-by on the A9 on November 12, 1976, with no sign of the mother and child.

The court heard yesterday that a woman resident in the area where Mrs MacRae's car was found had claimed to hear a scream on the night she and Andrew disappeared.

Mr MacRae added that he had been working late at a business meeting the night they vanished and had gone straight to his home at Drummond Crescent, Inverness from work in the city's Harbour Road.

Asked if he had any idea where Mrs MacRae and Andrew might be, he said: "No idea. I have not seen them since."

The trial continues.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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