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RENEE AND ANDREW MACRAE: Volvo salesman discusses 'unusual request' from William MacDowell to have boot floor replaced

By Ali Morrison

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

The High Court in Inverness has heard William MacDowell wanted a new boot floor fitted to his vehicle soon after Renee and Andrew MacRae disappeared.

Volvo salesman Ian Cattenach was giving evidence in the trial of MacDowell (80) who denies murdering Mrs MacRae and three year old Andrew in the Dalmagarry lay-by on November 12, 1976.

He has also pleaded not guilty to disposing of their bodies, a pushchair and destroying other evidence including a Volvo boot hatch.

Renee MacRae.
Renee MacRae.

MacDowell has lodged special defences of alibi and incrimination of Renee's estranged husband, building boss Gordon MacRae.

Mr Cattenach initially thought it was a Wednesday before Mrs MacRae and child went missing that MacDowell came in with his vehicle, which had the floor removed.

However after being referred by advocate depute Alex Prentice KC to a previous statement, he accepted it was actually after the disappearance.

He told the jury it was "an unusual request."

He said: "I asked where the floor was and he said he had burnt it.

"He said he was building a house and throwing building materials in the back had ruined it.

"He wanted it the same day. The Parts Department said it would be a month to get one. It would have to come to Sweden.

"He asked us to take one out of one of the sales cars. I said I couldn't do that and he went off not very happy."

Mr Cattenach recalled that MacDowell returned days later "in a better frame of mind and we agreed to give him one. We fitted it. He was a good customer so we thought we would try and help his situation.

"If it had failed I would have expected him to have taken it back and we would try and repair it."

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

But a colleague of Mr Cattenach's, William Mackenzie, who carried out the work, thought that MacDowell had the work done in June 1976.

He agreed he had never encountered the floor being broken.

He added that one section of carpet had also been removed.

A former schoolmate of MacDowell's, 81-year-old Christine Tuach, told the jury that she was returning home to Daviot from visiting her parents and saw a driver of a Volvo turning at the Nairnside road junction on the A9 at about 7.45-7.50pm on November 12, 1976.

She said she thought it was MacDowell or someone who looked like him.

His alibi places him nowhere near that junction at that time.

Earlier today Detective Sergeant Peter Black told prosecutor Alex Prentice KC of taking a statement from Mrs MacDowell who had been detained on suspicion of providing her husband with a false alibi.

He said: "The interview was very agitated and volatile."

The trial before Lord Armstrong continues.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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