The murder trial is being heard at the High Court in Inverness (Dan Barker/PA)
21 September 2022

Defendant accused of Renee MacRae murder is ‘walking dead man’, wife tells court

21 September 2022

The wife of a man accused of murder has said her husband’s poor health means he is a “walking dead man” and that he has set up a do not resuscitate order, a court heard.

Rosemary MacDowell was giving evidence into the trial of her husband, William MacDowell, at the High Court in Inverness.

The 80-year-old, from Penrith, Cumbria, is accused of murdering his son, three-year-old Andrew MacRae, and the child’s 36-year-old mother, Renee MacRae, in November 1976.

On Wednesday, Mrs MacDowell, also 80,  told defence lawyer Murray Macara KC, about her husband’s health, including his poor mobility and the medication he is on.

He's actually a walking dead man, and he has a DNR set up already

“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 has a DNR (do not resuscitate) set up already.”

MacDowell is on trial charged with assaulting Mrs MacRae and Andrew at the Dalmagarry layby on the A9 trunk road south of Inverness, or elsewhere, by means unknown, and as a result murdering them.

He is also charged with disposing of their bodies and belongings by means unknown.

MacDowell denies all charges and has lodged a special defence of incrimination and alibi.

Retired officer Peter Black, now 80, told the court of an “agitated” and “volatile” interview in the 1980s after Mrs MacDowell was detained at the couple’s former coaching house, the Crook Inn in Peeblesshire, and taken to the police station in Peebles.

During the interview, he challenged discrepancies in her story as to when her husband arrived home, which she said was about 8.30pm. She said: “Well, that must have been right at the time. I didn’t cover up anything.”

And, the court heard, when told that television programme The Quest finished after 10pm, and this did not fit with the 8.30pm arrival, Mrs MacDowell did not have an explanation.

In the interview, Mrs MacDowell told the officer: “I don’t know what you are getting on at me for. I never stabbed her or whatever happened to her.”

Christine Tuach, 81, told prosecutor Alex Prentice KC that she had known the accused from school and that her husband John later worked at the MacRae factory as a manager.

On the evening that Mrs MacRae went missing, she told the court, she had seen a Volvo which looked similar to MacDowell’s company issued car on the A9. Inside, she saw a white man with heavy-framed glasses.

“I thought it was Mr MacDowell,” she said. “If it wasn’t him, it was somebody who looked like him.”

The trial, before Lord Armstrong, continues.

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