Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Vicky trial told about home swap

Vicky Hamilton
Vicky Hamilton was last seen alive nearly 18 years ago

The man accused of murdering Vicky Hamilton seemed unwilling to let new tenants look around his home shortly before he moved out, his trial heard.

The High Court in Dundee was told Peter Tobin refused to allow the Hewitson family to see the upstairs of his Bathgate home in March 1991.

The family had agreed to swap their home in Margate for Mr Tobin's.

Mr Tobin denies the abduction and murder of 15-year-old Vicky in February 1991. The trial continues.

The teenager's remains were found buried in the garden of a house in Margate, Kent, in November last year.

Housewife Hannah Hewitson, 49, said she made two visits to 11 Robertson Avenue in Bathgate during the fortnight before she and her family moved in, but only saw the living room.

He accused me of swearing at him and we had what was probably a heated discussion about the fact that the cupboard wasn't ready
David Doig
She told the trial: "I asked to see upstairs. I was told it was boxes and bits and pieces that Mr Tobin was packing up."

Mrs Hewitson said she had "a proper look round" after getting the keys in her hand towards the end of March.

Earlier, the trial heard Mr Tobin threatened an electrician who went to carry out work at his Bathgate home.

Former electrician David Doig, 42, said he and Mr Tobin had a "heated" discussion when he arrived at 11 Robertson Avenue in February 1991 with a colleague to do some wiring.

The witness said Mr Tobin was "very nervous" and "argumentative" during the visit. Mr Tobin's young son was also in the house at the time.

Mr Doig said he did not go back to the house the day after the alleged argument, and told the jury: "During our discussion, I was threatened."

Solicitor General Frank Mulholland QC, prosecuting, asked: "Can you tell me whether the house was ready for you to complete the work?"

Mr Doig replied: "No, we had a problem. A cupboard we needed access to wasn't cleared out. He initially said that we weren't getting in there.

"He accused me of swearing at him and we had what was probably a heated discussion about the fact that the cupboard wasn't ready."

'Particularly offensive'

Mr Doig told the jury of 12 women and three men he cleared the cupboard out himself, but did not return to the house the following day.

During cross examination by defence QC Donald Findlay, Mr Doig admitted that he had used an expletive when he went into the cupboard.

Mr Findlay added that the word was something "the majority of decent thinking people find particularly offensive".

Mr Doig later told the court during re-examination that he had not directed the phrase at Mr Tobin.

Mr Findlay put it to the witness: "The fact of the matter is that when a householder is not there and there are strangers in his house, the strangers have free reign over that property to go where they will and do what they please."

Mr Doig agreed.

11 Robertson Avenue
Mr Doig was at the property to carry out electrical work
Mr Tobin is accused of abducting Vicky and taking her to Robertson Avenue in Bathgate, West Lothian, on 10 February 1991, which the Crown alleges was then occupied by him.

The charge also alleges that there or elsewhere he drugged her, struggled with her, compressed her neck, indecently assaulted her and murdered her.

He is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

It is alleged that he concealed Vicky's body and removed and disposed of a number of items of her clothing and footwear.

He is also accused of cutting her body in two and wrapping it in coverings and bin bags.

Then, allegedly aware police were conducting a missing persons inquiry, Mr Tobin is said to have put Vicky's purse under a portable cabin to mislead police into believing she had run away from home.

Mr Tobin denies all the charges against him and has lodged a special defence of alibi, saying that between 1700 GMT and midnight on 10 February 1991, he was in the Portsmouth area and was thereafter travelling to Scotland, arriving in Edinburgh at 0630 GMT the following day.

The trial, before Lord Emslie, continues.

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