April 2021

Serial sex offender found guilty of 1984 murder

A serial sex offender has been found guilty of murdering a mother-of-11 more than 36 years ago.

A jury took just over two hours to convict Graham McGill, 59, of strangling Mary McLaughlin, 58, in her Glasgow flat.

The grandmother’s body was discovered on 2 October 1984, six days after she was last seen alive on a night out in the city’s west end.

McGill will be sentenced at the High Court in Aberdeen next month.

Judge Lord Burns told him: “I have to pronounce a sentence of life imprisonment and will do so in due course.”

He thanked the jurors who sat through what he described as “a distressing and difficult case.”

It can now be reported he was on a week’s release from HMP Edinburgh when he carried out the horror murder.

He was serving a term for two sex attacks and was later jailed for another rape bid in 1999.

At the time of Ms McLaughlin’s murder, McGill was on day release from a 1981 prison sentence for assault with intent to rape.

During the four-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow, the jury heard she had enjoyed a night out drinking and playing dominoes at different bars on 26 September 1984.

She was last seen at about 22:45 leaving to go to a chip shop on her way home. But a short time later she met McGill, who was 22, and he ended up back at her flat.

There he launched what the prosecution described as a “brutal attack” and throttled Ms McLaughlin with the cord of her own dressing gown.

Ms McLaughlin’s death sparked a major police investigation and dozens of lines of inquiry.

The cold case remained unsolved until modern DNA techniques placed McGill in her flat with a greater than billion-to-one likelihood.

DNA found on her dress, inside the knot of the dressing gown belt, a cigarette end, and on a black bra all matched McGill, forensic scientist Joanne Cochrane told jurors.

McGill’s ex-wife Suzanne Russell also told the court that in 1988 he had confessed to murdering a woman because he “just wanted to know what it felt like”.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC revealed that McGill, who worked as a fabricator, was out on day release from HMP Edinburgh as part of a Training For Freedom initiative.

He was serving a six-year sentence for assault with intent to ravish and rape imposed in 1981.

He said: “It was during parole liberation that he carried out the murder of Mary McLaughlin. He was 22 at the time.”

Members of Mary’s family had written letters to the court expressing their grief.

Mr Prentice said: “The pain and sense of loss suffered by them has been prolonged.”

The prosecutor also told the court that McGill was jailed for life in 1999 for a brutal assault with intent to rape and was released on licence in 2007.

He was arrested and charged with Ms McLaughlin’s murder on 4 December 2019.