The trial of a man accused of murdering a woman and her son more than four decades ago has heard he told a car dealership he burned part of the trunk of his car.
William MacDowell, 80, denies murdering his son, Andrew MacRae, three, and the child’s mother, 36, Renee MacRae, on November 12, 1976.
He is also accused of disposing of their bodies and of also disposing of a trunk hatch of a Volvo car to defeat the ends of justice.
On Wednesday, the High Court in Inverness heard Ian Cattanach, who worked for dealership Volvo Autosales at the time of the alleged incident, who told the KC defense Alex Prentice that MacDowell had wanted a replacement floor for the loading area .
“The floor has been removed. I asked him where the floor was, he said he burned it,” the 76-year-old told the court.
“He said he was building a house and throwing building materials in the back destroyed the ground.”
Mr Cattanach told the jury he ‘couldn’t understand’ why he wanted it the same day and told him MacDowell they didn’t have the parts which would take a month to arrive.
The car dealership told the court that MacDowell later returned in “a better state of mind” and they did the work for him, removing the part from another stock vehicle to fit his because he was a good customer.
Testifying earlier, MacDowell’s wife Rosemary told the court that the defendant’s poor health meant he was a “walking dead man”.
The 80-year-old spoke to MacDowell’s defense attorney, Murray Macara KC, about her husband’s health, including his poor mobility and the medications he takes.
“He has a very sick liver, very sick kidneys and his heart is trying very hard to keep him alive,” she said.
“He’s actually a walking dead man, and he’s already set up a DNR (do not resuscitate).”
MacDowell denies all three charges and has filed a special defense of incrimination and alibi.
Retired officer Peter Black, now 80, told the court of a ‘choppy’ and ‘volatile’ interview in the 1980s after Ms MacDowell was detained at the couple’s former coaching inn , the Crook Inn in Peeblesshire, and taken to Peebles Police Station. .
During the interview, he disputed discrepancies in her story as to what time her husband arrived home, which she said was around 8:30 p.m. She said, “Well, it must have been right back then. I didn’t hide anything.”
And, the court heard, when told that The Quest TV show ended after 10 p.m., and that this did not correspond to the 8:30 p.m. arrival, Ms MacDowell had no d ‘explanation.
During the interview, Ms. MacDowell told the officer: “I don’t know why you are picking on me. I never stabbed her or anything that happened to her.
Christine Tuach, 81, told Mr Prentice she had known the defendant from school and her husband John later worked at the MacRae factory as a manager.
On the evening of Ms MacRae’s disappearance, she told the court, she had seen a Volvo which looked like MacDowell’s company car on the A9. Inside, she saw a white man with thick-rimmed glasses.
“I thought it was Mr. MacDowell,” she said. “If it wasn’t him, it was someone who looked like him.”
The trial, before Lord Armstrong, continues.