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RENEE AND ANDREW MACRAE: High Court in Inverness told Volvo was seen with BMW on night mother and son disappeared

By Ali Morrison

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

Retired engineer Martin Shand (65) said he was returning from college in Dundee for the weekend and spotted the two vehicles at Dalmagarry.

Mr Shand, from Inverness, said he saw the vehicles in the lay-by south of Inverness between 7.30pm and 8pm on November 12, 1976.

He told the jury it was a popular spot for courting couples and he knew it was a Volvo because he had driven one the weekend before.

Renee MacRae.
Renee MacRae.

Mr Shand said he also saw two people but thought they could have been men due to their build.

He was giving evidence in the trial of 80-year-old William MacDowell, who is accused of murdering 36-year-old Renee MacRae, estranged wife of building company boss Gordon MacRae, and her three year old son Andrew.

MacDowell, however, denies disposing of their bodies and personal belongings and destroying evidence by setting Mrs MacRae's blue BMW on fire.

The trial is in its fifth day of evidence and it has been heard that MacDowell, who also worked for Mr MacRae's company, had a Volvo given to him by the firm.

Other witnesses spoke of seeing a BMW in a lay-by two miles north of Dalmagarry outside Meallmore Lodge Hotel between 6.55pm and 8pm on the evening in question.

Retired nurse, 79-year-old Maureen Grant, knew Mrs MacRae and her car and said she saw it parked outside the hotel on the A9 as she headed for Aviemore to a dinner.

"The hotel lights at the front were very bright and I could see that no-one was inside," she said.

Mrs MacRae's son Andrew.
Mrs MacRae's son Andrew.

Working at the hotel on the night was 78-year-old Marian MacLean who said she also knew Mrs MacRae's car and followed it along the A9 before it pulled into the same lay-by at about 6.55pm.

Then 82-year-old Patricia Wilson, who lived in Kingussie at the time, told advocate depute Alex Prentice that she saw a man standing beside a car near either Meallmore or Dalmagarry after it pulled off the road.

"A person pulled the driver's car door open, he had his arms over the door and his head down, was speaking to the driver," she said. "My mother said it was a man.

"A woman was in the driver's seat and a child was in the back. Her hairstyle was combed back and high."

The trial, before Lord Armstrong, continues.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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