Elaine Doyle murder: ‘Scared by stranger in car’

FRIENDS of the murdered teenager Elaine Doyle said she had been frightened by a stranger in a blue car, a trial heard today.
Elaine Doyle was murdered in Greenock 27 years ago. Picture: ContributedElaine Doyle was murdered in Greenock 27 years ago. Picture: Contributed
Elaine Doyle was murdered in Greenock 27 years ago. Picture: Contributed

The High Court in Edinburgh heard the statements made by her friends in the days and weeks following the discovery of Elaine’s body in a lane near her home in Greenock had been used to jog their memories about the events of 27 years ago.

Elaine’s best friend, Lynn McCurdy, 44, told of their last night out together at a 50p disco in the Celtic Club in the town’s Laird Street.

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Today it was the turn of Lynn’s sister, Debbie Ryan, 47, who was also at the disco.

She said she saw Elaine dancing with a boy called Bernie Bradley but did not see her chatting to any men.

Questioned by defence QC Donald Findlay, Debbie said she didn’t think Elaine was quieter than usual that night, as if something was bothering her.

Mr Findlay asked: “Did you become aware there was a suggestion she had been, on a number of occasions, followed by a man in a car?”

Debbie told the lawyer “yes” and agreed it was a blue car.

The trial heard that Elaine had been so concerned that when hanging out at a pool hall in the town centre she would ask boys there to walk her home.

The trial also heard that Lynn McCurdy’s husband, Francis, had been named as a suspect - by the man who is now accused of the teenager’s murder.

Francis McCurdy - known as Spike - is on a list of 41 possible culprits which has been shown to a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The jury has also seen an artist’s impression of a ginger-haired man produced by police in 1986.

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Both Lynn and her sister, Debbie, told police the drawing resembled Francis McCurdy.

But Lynn told the trial yesterday that during their 22 years together her husband never said or did anything to lead her to suspect him of responsibility for Elaine’s death, or hiding a secret.

Bernie Bradley’s name is also on the defence list of possible suspects.

John Docherty, 49, now of Hunters’ Quay, Holiday Village, Dunoon, denies murder and claims that at the time he is alleged to have killed Elaine, 16, he was at home with his parents, who are no longer alive.

Docherty has also lodged a so-called special defence of incrimination claimed the culprit might be among a list of 41 names taken from files of the police investigation into the murder.

The charge alleges that on June 2 1986 in a lane near Elaine Doyle’s home in Ardgowan Street, Greenock, he seized her by the hair, struck her on the head and either removed or compelled her to remove her clothing.

The charge goes on to allege that Docherty forced Elaine to the ground, pushed her face into the ground, sat or knelt on the teenager then placed a ligature round her neck and strangled her.

Docherty also denies stealing a handbag from Ardgowan Street on the same date.

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He further denies a charge of attacking another woman, Linda Hargie, on various occasions between 1990 and 1995 at an address in Anne Street, Greenock by seizing her and pushing her and punching her on the head.

The trial continues.