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Monday, October 26, 1998 Published at 08:23 GMT


Saudi murder nurse appeals to Gilford

McLauchlan: 'I would like to apologise for what has happened'

One of the nurses jailed after the murder of a colleague in Saudi Arabia wants to meet the victim's brother, according to reports from Australia.

[ image: Frank Gilford: Took 'blood money']
Frank Gilford: Took 'blood money'
Lucille McLauchlan told The Australian newspaper and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she wants to apologise to Frank Gilford for any past animosity.

"I would like the opportunity ... to meet Mr Gilford and basically apologise for what has happened to Yvonne and then try to explain to Mr Gilford the reasons why I was not responsible for Yvonne's death," she told journalists.

But Mr Gilford's wife has already dismissed the prospect of a meeting taking place.

In an interview at her home in Dundee, McLauchlan said she was writing to Mr Gilford, the man she once called "a greedy, selfish bastard", for accepting $1.1m (£750,000) in "blood money".

The deal led to her release along with that of nurse Deborah Parry, who was also jailed for Yvonne Gilford's murder.

McLauchlan had been sentenced to eight years in jail with 500 lashes as an accessory to the murder while Ms Parry was sent to death row.

Ms Gilford had been stabbed 13 times, bludgeoned and suffocated in 1996 in the same Dhahran hospital in which the British nurses worked.

[ image: Parry: Freed from death row]
Parry: Freed from death row
Under Saudi law, murder carries a maximum sentence of death by beheading and a victim's next-of-kin can either call for the sentence to be carried out or agree to leniency by accepting "blood money".

The nurses were released in May 1998 after Saudi Arabia's King Fahd commuted their sentences to the 17 months they had already served.

'I felt sorry for him'

A recent British TV documentary called Witness which featured Mr Gilford, prompted McLauchlan to speak to the media.

"I felt heart sorry for Frank Gilford when I saw him on television for the first time. I always sympathised with him because he had lost a wonderful sister like Yvonne," she said.

[ image: Yvonne Gilford:
Yvonne Gilford: "Wonderful sister"
"But I cannot deny that I felt very angry with him when I was in prison in Saudi Arabia. When you are in a situation like that, when you are worried about your personal survival, you do become self-centred."

She added: "Now to make matters worse, I understand that he has been landed with a massive tax bill after donating much of the money to charity in memory of Yvonne.

"It is terrible. At the end of the day, I have a lot to thank Frank Gilford for. I am indebted to him."

Hard to forgive

Frank Gilford's wife Laurel said it was unlikely her husband would be able to forgive Ms McLauchlan for her earlier comments.

"He has no intention of meeting her after the way she called him money-hungry bastard," she said from her home in Jamestown, near Adelaide.

McLauchlan, who married her long-time fiance Grant Ferrie in a Saudi prison, said that a meeting would only take place in private and with his agreement.

"We believe (Frank Gilford) has evidence that could clear me," she told the newspaper. "I always thought that if he actually saw the case against me, he would realise that it was not right."

Prosecutors had told the Saudi court that the nurses must be guilty because they had used bank cards belonging to Ms Gilford soon after her death.

Ms McLauchlan denied this and believes that Mr Gilford has his sisters bank records for that period that will prove her innocence.

She is in the process of sifting through evidence at her solicitors' offices and has met officials of the human rights organisation Amnesty International.

She is not longer in touch with Ms Parry, who, she claims, was behaving "bizarrely" just before the murder took place.

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