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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 18:05 GMT
Woods murder police 'held seance'
Elizabeth McCabe
Elizabeth McCabe was murdered in February 1980
Police investigating the murder of a Dundee woman attended a seance in an attempt to find her killer, a former senior detective has told a court.

Norman Robertson said officers visited a medium's house the month after Elizabeth McCabe's body was found in Templeton Woods in 1980.

But he told the High Court in Edinburgh: "I never thought this was a worthwhile line of inquiry."

Vincent Simpson, 61, of Camberley, Surrey, denies Ms McCabe's murder.

Her body was found in the woods on the outskirts of Dundee in February 1980, on the eve of her 21st birthday.

Subdued lighting

Mr Robertson, a 58-year-old retired detective superintendent, said officers visited a "trance medium" in Dundee in March that year.

He said the move showed that police were looking into every possible avenue of inquiry.

Mr Robertson, who was a detective constable at the time, said there had been subdued lighting.

The officers had held hands, although not in an "affectionate" way.

I can say it was never considered to be a serious line of inquiry
Norman Robertson

"I can recollect, possibly, at some time the woman was induced through some form of hypnosis to go to a spirit guide who took her to another area," he said.

The medium then gave information which he did not think had any bearing on the case.

"I can say it was never considered to be a serious line of inquiry," added Mr Robertson.

He said the seance did not last long because the woman was unable to continue her "charade".

Earlier, Mark Stewart QC, defending, accused the police of "extremely sloppy methods" during their investigation.

'Sloppy practice'

Retired detective constable Joe Springett, 54, was asked about a diary in which Mr Simpson's hires from his private taxi business were noted.

Mr Stewart said the label which should have been attached to the diary, showing which officers had seized it and when, was missing.

"The difficulty we have got is sloppy practice," said Mr Stewart. Mr Springett agreed the label should have been attached.

Mr Stewart also accused officers of trying to bully his client during long interrogations.

She did not appear to have struggled for her life
Professor Anthony Busuttil

The trial heard that Mr Simpson was questioned over several hours on consecutive days at Dundee's police headquarters.

The questioning took place two months before a change in the law limited the time police could hold a suspect to six hours.

Former pathologist Harry Leadbitter, 68, told the trial that a post-mortem examination showed Ms McCabe had died from asphyxia caused by compression of her neck.

The court also heard from Professor Anthony Busuttil, 61, who was asked to carry out "an impartial and up-dated review" of the earlier findings after police reopened the case in 2005.

Fatal results

He said there were no defensive injuries on Ms McCabe's body, adding: "She did not appear to have struggled for her life.

"Death would have been quite sudden, if not instant, and it was the result of so-called vagal inhibition."

He said pressure in the wrong place could affect the vagus nerve with fatal results.

Prof Busuttil said it was possible that she had been killed by "something that happened which caused her to die during a struggle or during a sex act".

The trial continues.

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