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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 20:22 GMT 21:22 UK
Judge throws out World's End case
Angus Sinclair
Angus Sinclair had denied killing Christine Eadie and Helen Scott

The trial of a convicted killer and sex offender who was accused of murdering two young women in Edinburgh 30 years ago has collapsed.

Angus Sinclair had denied attacking and killing 17-year-olds Christine Eadie and Helen Scott in what became known as the World's End murders case.

The girls were last seen in the World's End pub in the city and their bodies dumped in East Lothian in October 1977.

Judge Lord Clarke said the Crown had insufficient evidence to proceed.

Advocate depute Alan Mackay, the leader of the prosecution team, was not in his usual place in court to hear the judge's decision.

Police have said that Mr Mackay has been reported missing and concern has been expressed for his whereabouts.

Lord Clarke
I am of the view that the evidence taken at its highest in context of a whole is neutral as to whether or not he was involved in acting with force or violence against the girls
Judge Lord Clarke

Sinclair, 62, has been serving a life sentence in Peterhead Prison for killing 17-year-old Mary Gallagher in November 1978.

He also has a string of convictions for sexual offences including the sexual assault and strangulation of eight-year-old Catherine Reehill in 1961.

He lodged a special defence at the World's End trial, incriminating his brother-in-law Gordon Hamilton, who is dead.

In a document read to the jury at the start of the trial Sinclair blamed Mr Hamilton for the murders.

Sinclair also claimed that any sexual contact between him and the young women was consensual.

Ms Eadie's naked body was found at Gosford Bay, East Lothian, on 16 October, 1977.

Tied up

Her hands were bound behind her back, she had been strangled with a pair of tights and she had been gagged.

Ms Scott's partly clothed body was found a few miles away in a field by the Huntingdon to Coates road, near Haddington. She had also been tied up and strangled.

After 10 days of evidence, Sinclair's defence team lodged a submission on Friday that there was no case to answer.

Dismissing the case at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Clarke said: "I am of the view that the evidence taken at its highest in context of a whole is neutral as to whether or not he was involved in acting with force or violence against the girls, there having been some evidence of sexual contact between him and the girls in the 12 hours or so before they were killed.

Helen Scott and Christine Eadie
Helen Scott and Christine Eadie were murdered in 1977

"The question of timing seems to me to be critical.

"I'm not satisfied what the advocate-depute had to say overcame these difficulties in that respect."

During the case the court heard details of DNA and semen found on a coat belonging to Ms Scott.

Forensic expert Martin Fairley, based at the Scottish Police Services Authority forensic laboratory in Glasgow, said the chances of the DNA not belonging to Sinclair were a billion to one.

Another forensic scientist, Jonathan Whitaker, said other DNA tests provided "compelling evidence" that semen present on both girls came from Mr Hamilton.

Lothian and Borders Police said on Monday they were "disappointed" at the decision.

A spokesman said: "We put together a thorough and detailed case for the Crown Office to take to trial and Monday's announcement is disappointing.

"We have no plans to reopen the investigation."

Reaction from Helen Scott's father

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