Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 15:20 UK

'Fed to fishes' claim at Rothesay woman's murder trial

Alison McGarrigle
Allison McGarrigle's body has never been discovered

One of two men accused of murdering a woman and dumping her body at sea claimed she had been "fed to the fishes", a court has heard.

A man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the High Court in Glasgow that the comment from Charles O'Neill left him "chilled to the bone".

Mr O'Neill and William Lauchlan deny killing Allison McGarrigle in 1997.

It is alleged they abducted the 39-year-old to prevent her reporting the abuse of a young boy.

Mrs McGarrigle was reported missing in February 1998. Her body has never been recovered and she was declared dead in 2005.

The male witness giving evidence on Friday told the court how he had been introduced to both accused through a friend and visited their cottage in Skelmorlie, Ayrshire.

The witness, now aged 27, said he was about 14 at the time.

My understanding was that Allison McGarrigle had been murdered and her body had been disposed of in the water
Male witness

He told prosecutor Dorothy Bain QC of a remark made at the property which he said was "a surreal moment".

The man said: "Charles O'Neill made the comment that 'she is feeding the fishes down there'. I will not forget that it chilled me to the bone."

The witness said the Firth of Clyde was near the cottage.

Ms Bain then asked: "Did you move from thinking that [the comment] was not true to having a different opinion?"

He replied: "My understanding was that Allison McGarrigle had been murdered and her body had been disposed of in the water."

The witness claimed Mr O'Neill later said to him that if there was no body "you don't have a crime".

'Disgusting' comments

Mr O'Neill also allegedly made "disgusting" comments about Mrs McGarrigle and Mr Lauchlan would find them "amusing".

The witness agreed with a suggestion that Mr O'Neill and Mr Lauchlan had been in a relationship.

The jury again heard about a boy that the pair were said to have "criminal sexual activity" with.

The witness said he had met the youngster, who he believed was aged 13 or 14, at the cottage.

He claimed Mr O'Neill had told him that he and the boy were in a relationship.

Mr Lauchlan and Mr O'Neill deny murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Mr O'Neill has lodged a special defence incriminating Mrs McGarrigle's husband Robert as being responsible for her death.

He also faces a charge of assault or an alternative allegation of culpable and reckless conduct.

The trial, before judge Lord Pentland, continues.

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