Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Thursday, 20 May 2010 16:17 UK

Heather Stacey's body 'badly decomposed'

Heather Stacey
Ms Stacey's body was dumped in bags near her Edinburgh flat

A body which was chopped up and dumped in bags was so rotten it was difficult for experts to tell what sex it was, a murder trial has heard.

Forensic pathologist Ralph Bouhadir was giving evidence during the trial of 56-year-old Alan Cameron.

Cameron admits dismembering mother-of-four Heather Stacey and dumping her remains, but denies murdering her.

Mr Bouhadir told the High Court in Livingston it was impossible to tell how Ms Stacey died.

Dr Bouhadir, 35, who is employed by NHS Lothian and Borders, told the jury that only 95% of Ms Stacey's body was ever found, with her left hand, part of a foot, and a total of 39 bones still missing.

Badly decomposed

He said: "After three post mortems I could not tell what the cause of death was, due to the condition of the remains. Because of the condition it was difficult to tell the gender."

He added that because of how badly decomposed the body was, it was possible some parts had been pulled apart without the use of a knife as the joints had weakened.

Jurors also heard evidence from Caithness couple Margaret and Dennis MacKenzie, who said Cameron came to stay with them in Thurso in Christmas 2007.

[Ms Stacey] said that men were her problem and always ended up with the wrong guy and if she could keep away from creepy guys she would be fine
Julie Donegan
Mental health counsellor

Mrs MacKenzie said: "At one point he was speaking on the phone, and he said 'I can't deal with this right now'. When he came off the phone he said he had been speaking to Heather."

She said he then told her on Christmas Eve that he had split up with 44-year-old Ms Stacey.

Mrs MacKenzie also described Cameron as "very childish at times" and a "bit of a fantasist".

Her husband said that Cameron had seemed besotted with Ms Stacey, who lived in the Granton area of Edinburgh, and appeared jealous when she spoke to other men.

Mr MacKenzie said: "On Friday January 2nd 2008 he called me to say that police had found a decomposed head near to where he worked. He said it was found in a bag.

"He wasn't bothered about it one way or another" Mr MacKenzie added, but when he called Cameron back two days later he seemed "like a different man" and "wasn't the Alan I knew".

Benefit payments

Julie Donegan, 42, a mental health counsellor, said she had been told by Ms Stacey in July 2007 about a man she met in a charity shop.

She said: "She described him as creepy and stalkerish. She said that men were her problem and always ended up with the wrong guy and if she could keep away from creepy guys she would be fine."

The head and remains of Ms Stacey, formerly of Dingwall, Ross-shire, were found in a bag by a dog walker in Edinburgh on Hogmanay 2008.

Cameron, from Edinburgh, has admitted hiding her body for over a year in her flat, going back periodically to check it had not been discovered, and sawing the limbs from her decomposed torso, wrapping her body parts in bags and covers, and dumping the pieces.

He has also admitted making repeated withdrawals from her Post Office card account between November 2007 and October 2008 to convince the benefits authorities she was still alive, inducing them to continue paying a total of £5,000 in benefits.

He further admits sending a text purporting to be from Ms Stacey, and over five days in December 2007 repeatedly pretended she had phoned him.

The trial, before Lord Matthews, continues.

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