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A man convicted of killing his partner and their three-year-old son has died, without telling police where their bodies were buried.
William MacDowell was given a life sentence with a minimum 30 years in September last year after a jury found him guilty of murdering Renee and Andrew MacRae.
Renee and Andrew have not been seen since 1976. The 81-year old had long been suspected of killing them but it was only last year that police felt they had enough evidence to secure a conviction.
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Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes, who helped bring MacDowell to justice, said on Wednesday: “Renee and Andrew’s bodies have not been found and recent attempts to encourage William MacDowell to do the right thing, and share any knowledge he may have which could assist the police, were unsuccessful.”
As judge Lord Armstrong handed MacDowell a minimum of 30 years in prison, sealing his fate to die behind bars, he told the killer: “These murders appear to have been premeditated, planned and carried out in the most calculated way – not a spontaneous event or spur of the moment.
“These appear, in effect, to have been executions.
“You murdered your victims and then disposed of their bodies and personal effects, including the boy’s pushchair.
“You then took steps to conceal the crimes you had committed.”
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MacDowell always maintained his innocence, reports LancashireLive, but he jury of seven men and eight women took just under four hours to reach a guilty verdict.
During the trial the court heard MacDowell, who moved to Penrith, killed or abducted Mrs MacRae and their son in a layby on the A9 near Dalmagarry, south of Inverness, on November 12, 1976.
The trial heard MacDowell had been carrying on an illicit affair with Mrs MacRae and that she had believed they would be meeting up for a weekend away before a planned move to Shetland. The jury was told how MacDowell was company secretary at a building firm owned by Mrs MacRae's estranged husband, Gordon.
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MacDowell was sacked after the affair was discovered and the trial heard he had refused to hand back his company car until he had finished scrubbing it out, and also paid to have the inside of the boot replaced.
During his first police interview, he refused to admit any association with the victim, only revealing this in a second interview later the same day.
On the night Mrs MacRae and her young son were last seen, the High Court in Inverness heard of a “blood-curdling scream” just a few hundred yards from the layby where her BMW would be found burnt out.
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The jury were told by Advocate Depute Alex Prentice it was “last utterance of Renee MacRae while alive”.
MacDowell’s wife Rosemary, who had brought him into court in a wheelchair every day of the trial, said that he was “a walking dead man”.
“He has a very sick liver, very sick kidneys and his heart is trying very hard to keep him alive,” she said.
A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed: “Around 11.05am on Wednesday, 15 February, 2023, officers were made aware of the death of an 81-year-old man at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
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