Margaret Fleming trial: Timeline of events leading up to murder convictions

Edward Cairney and Avril Jones have been convicted of murdering vulnerable Margaret Fleming almost 20 years ago.

Here is a timeline of events surrounding the police investigation and legal process which led to them being found guilty.

Margaret Fleming missing
Margaret Fleming was reported missing in 2016 (Police Scotland/PA)

– October 28 2016

Margaret Fleming is reported missing by her two carers from her home in Main Road, Inverkip, Inverclyde.

– December 12 2016

Police say they will be carrying out excavation work in the garden and are “carefully sifting through the house” where Ms Fleming was believed to live with her two carers.

Specialist search teams including the police helicopter, dog unit and dive teams had also been searching across Inverclyde.

– December 17 2016

On the anniversary of the last independent sighting of Ms Fleming, which was at a family gathering on December 17 1999, police say it is possible she “may have come to some harm” and say their priority is establishing her movements and lifestyle from 1999 onwards.

It is understood police went to the house as part of a routine social services inquiry in October 2016 but were told she was not there, and her carers later reported her missing.

– December 21 2016

Police ban the flying of drones over an area where they are searching, with the restriction in place until late February.

No aircraft other than Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service or Maritime Coast Guard Agency assets can fly below 1,500ft in the area, police say.

Margaret Fleming missing
Police searching the cottage in Inverkip (Andrew Milligan/PA)

– April 28 2017

Police say Ms Fleming’s disappearance may be down to “something more sinister” as their search at the property concludes.

Officers have been sifting through thousands of items, paperwork, documents and articles taken from the house and have been in contact with around 1,200 individuals and organisations who may have had contact with Ms Fleming.

Police say the search they carried out in the house and the grounds extended into nearby water and woodland.

The area searched in the garden alone was around half a hectare.

– October 26 2017

Police investigating Ms Fleming’s disappearance arrest her carers Edward Cairney and Avril Jones.

– October 27 2017

The pair appear at Greenock Sheriff Court charged with murder, abduction and assault, fraud and an attempt to defeat the ends of justice. They make no plea and are remanded in custody.

– May 28 2018

Cairney and Jones appear at the High Court in Livingston charged with abducting and murdering Ms Fleming and claiming £182,000 in benefits by fraud by pretending that she was still alive.

The pair’s lawyers enter not-guilty pleas to all the charges on their behalf during the first public hearing of the case.

High Court Glasgow
Cairney and Jones were tried at the High Court in Glasgow (Jane Barlow/PA)

– September 26 2018

The pair go on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of abducting and murdering Ms Fleming and fraudulently claiming £182,000 in benefits by pretending she was still alive.

 – October 18 2018

The trial is deserted pro loco et tempore with the Crown expected to reindict the case with a fresh trial at a later date.

– April 25 2019

Cairney and Jones go on trial at the High Court in Glasgow. They are accused of assaulting and murdering Ms Fleming and fraudulently claiming £182,000 in benefits by pretending she was alive.

– June 14 2019

Both accused are convicted of murder on a majority verdict.

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