Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Neighbour 'spotted Vicky accused'

Vicky Hamilton
Vicky Hamilton was last seen alive nearly 18 years ago

The man accused of abducting and murdering Vicky Hamilton was spotted near where the 15-year-old disappeared, a court has heard.

Peter Tobin, 62, claims he was hundreds of miles away from Bathgate when Vicky was allegedly snatched from a street in the town almost 18 years ago.

But his former neighbour told the High Court in Dundee she saw him near a pub in Bathgate on February 10, 1991.

Mr Tobin denies the abduction and murder of the schoolgirl.

His former next door neighbour, Wendy Love, told the court she was sure of the date because she had been out on the town with friends that night to celebrate a birthday.

"There is no room for mistake. I did see Peter Tobin that night," she said, when challenged by defence QC Donald Findlay.

Mrs Love said she had lived at 10 Robertson Avenue, Bathgate, with her parents and brother between 1977 and 2001.

11 Robertson Avenue
Mrs Love said she lived at 10 Robertson Avenue, next to Mr Tobin

Mr Tobin lived alone at number 11 from June 1990 until March 1991, the trial has heard, after his wife, Cathy, left him and moved to the south of England.

"I spoke to him from time to time. I saw him from time to time," his former neighbour said.

Questioned by solicitor general Frank Mulholland QC, prosecuting, Mrs Love recalled the night out in Bathgate for her friend Anne Gillogley's 20th birthday.

"It was a Sunday night," Mrs Love said.

She had a couple of drinks in a pub, went "walkabout" to meet Anne's friends and the group went to a disco.

The court heard the pubs closed early on Sundays, so it would have been between 2230 and 2245 GMT when she was near the town's railway station in King Street.

She stood by a pub called the Engine Room, which had a different name then.

I knew who he was - I knew the person across the road
Wendy Love

"I was with friends until somebody came to my attention," she said.

"Who was that?" asked Mr Mulholland. "Mr Tobin," Mrs Love replied.

She said he was across the street, surrounded by people who had come out of another pub, and was wearing a black biker's jacket, dark trousers and a rugby scarf.

"Did you get a look at his face?" asked Mr Mulholland. "How long did you see his face?"

Mrs Love told him: "A split second".

She said: "I just heard a person shouting 'Oi' and I turned round and my friend asked me who was shouting 'oi' and I said 'my next door neighbour' and that was the end of the discussion."

"I knew who he was. I knew the person across the road."

But she added: "I am not 100%. There is room for doubt."

Run away

Mr Tobin is accused of abducting Vicky and taking her to Robertson Avenue in Bathgate, West Lothian, on 10 February 1991, which the Crown alleges was then occupied by him.

The charge also alleges that there or elsewhere he drugged her, struggled with her, compressed her neck, indecently assaulted her and murdered her.

He is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

It is alleged that he concealed Vicky's body and removed and disposed of a number of items of her clothing and footwear.

He is also accused of cutting her body in two and wrapping it in coverings and bin bags.

Then, allegedly aware police were conducting a missing persons inquiry, Mr Tobin is said to have put Vicky's purse under a portable cabin to mislead police into believing she had run away from home.

Mr Tobin denies all the charges against him and has lodged a special defence of alibi, saying that between 1700 GMT and midnight on 10 February 1991, he was in the Portsmouth area and was thereafter travelling to Scotland, arriving in Edinburgh at 0630 GMT the following day.

The trial, before Lord Emslie, continues.

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