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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Trio admit 'savage' flat killings
David Gillespie, Tony Coyle and Ian Mitchell
David Gillespie, Tony Coyle and Ian Mitchell were brutally murdered
A mother, her son and his friend face life sentences for the murder of three men at a Glasgow flat in October.

Edith McAlinden, her son John and Jamie Gray, were accused of murdering David Gillespie and Ian Mitchell, both from Glasgow, and Tony Coyle, from Donegal.

Three separate guilty pleas were accepted at the High Court in Glasgow.

Edith McAlinden pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Gillespie, 42, her son to the murder of Mr Mitchell, 67, and Jamie Gray to murdering Mr Coyle, 71.

McAlinden, 37, was the girlfriend of Mr Gillespie. The pair were both homeless, as was McAlinden's 17-year-old son John.

The court heard that the men were subjected to "appalling levels of savage violence" at the flat on Dixon Avenue in the Crosshill area of the city, which was owned by Mr Mitchell.

Violet Cahill
How evil can people get?
Violet Cahill
Ex-partner of Mr Gillespie

The three will be sentenced at the High Court in Dunfermline at the end of June.

A witness who lived in the flat below had described hearing a "noise like thunder" and told how the ceiling shook just hours before the three men were found dead.

The court heard that the men were attacked with a variety of weapons, including an axe, a baseball bat, golf clubs, a hammer, boiling water, knives, metal files, a belt and pieces of wood.

BBC Scotland investigations correspondent Bob Wylie said the attacks had taken place following a drinking session.

He said: "We know, according to the court, that David Gillespie died of stab wounds in his legs, we know that Mr Mitchell died of several stab wounds in his chest and injuries consistent with having his head repeatedly kicked.

'Horrific' crimes

"And we know also that Mr Coyle died of a severe beating, consistent with being beaten about the head with a golf club."

Mr Coyle had locked himself in a bedroom, so had not seen the killings but was the only witness in the flat apart from McAlinden, her son and Gray, 16.

Edith McAlinden, John McAlinden and Jamie Gray
McAlinden, her son John and Jamie Gray admitted separate charges

He was killed after a drill was used to remove the locks and boiling water was then poured over Mr Gillespie and Mr Mitchell's heads in a bizarre attempt to see if they were still alive.

The jury had been shown a harrowing video of the carnage inside the flat.

The body of Mr Mitchell was lying on a settee on one side of the living room littered with knives, a baseball bat, golf clubs, bottles and broken furniture.

Mr Coyle was lying on another settee and Mr Gillespie was in between them, lying on the floor in front of the fireplace.

The bodies, walls, floor and ceiling were covered in their blood.

McAlinden, who had only been released from prison the day before after serving nine months for serious assault, had stayed at Mr Mitchell's flat on previous occasions.

The crime scene was the most chilling I have every visited
Det Supt Willie Johnstone

When police arrived she was in an hysterical state holding onto Mr Gillespie's body, screaming "wake up, wake up, don't do this to me".

There had been suggestions the dispute started over getting more money to buy drink. McAlinden also refuted allegations surrounding the relationship between her and Mr Mitchell.

Prosecutor Sean Murphy QC said there was so much blood in the flat that it was impossible to be precise about the details of the violence or be certain about the sequence of events.

Violet Cahill, who had been Mr Gillespie's partner for 20 years before splitting up three years ago, said she could not comprehend the killings.

Forensic officer
Forensic teams found the flat soaked in blood

She said: "I hope they rot in hell for what they've done to two old men and my ex-partner.

"Justice should be done for the horrific things that they've done, knives and axes and drills and kettles - they said they put boiling water over them to see if they were dead - how evil can people get?"

She added: "Edith McAlinden, in particular, is a monster."

A statement read out on behalf of the families of the two other victims said: "Tony and Ian were the best of friends they didn't deserve to be murdered."

Outside the court, Detective Superintendent Willie Johnstone, who led the inquiry said: "The crime scene was the most chilling I have every visited."

Triple murder flat ceiling shook
13 May 05 |  Scotland

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