Tuesday 24 April 2018

No clues at home of man accused of beheading mother

Phyllis Dunleavy
Phyllis Dunleavy

FORENSIC scientists searched the home of a man accused of beheading and dismembering his mother - but found no clues.

A murder trial heard today that chemicals and special lighting were used in the Edinburgh flat. They even took up the floor coverings.


Only two tiny spots of blood, matching the DNA of Dublin mum Philomena Dunleavy, 66, were found.


The searches, in July, followed the discovery of Mrs Dunleavy's remains in a shallow grave on Edinburgh's Corstorphine Hill.


Son James Dunleavy - also known as Seamus - is accused of burying her there after murdering her in his flat in Balgreen Road, just 15 minutes walk from the grave.


Dunleavy, 40, denies murdering his mother between April 30 and May 7 last year then attempting to cover up the alleged crime by cutting off his mother's legs and head and carrying her in a suitcase to the woodland clearing where he dumped her.


Forensic scientist Amanda Pirie said the first exercise was to check Dunleavy's clean and tidy flat visually.


Another, more detailed examination, used the chemical Luminol. "People will be familiar with this from watching television," said Ms Pirie.


But there was no bright blue light indicating blood.


She also told the trial it was impossible to tell when, or how, the two blood spots found in a bedroom had got there.


Defence QC Gordon Jackson suggested the most thorough search using the most up-to-date scientific equipment found nothing significant.


"That is correct. We only found a couple of blood spots," she said.


Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, asked if she would expect to find blood on the ceiling or walls.


"Not necessarily. There are many factors you have to take into consideration," she replied.


The trial also heard today how Dunleavy was faced with an image of his mother just days after the discovery of her body.


Shopkeeper Adil Hussan, 30, from the post office below Dunleavy's flat described how copies of the local paper had a front page picture of a re-construction of his mum's face by experts from Dundee University.


Dunleavy just made "a passaway comment" about the marvels of computer generation, said Mr Hassan.


The murder charge alleges that in the Balgreen Road flat, or elsewhere, Dunleavy inflicted "blunt force trauma" by means unknown, compressed his mother's throat and cut off her head and legs with a blade and something like a saw.


A second charge accuses Dunleavy of pretending his mum was unwell and had returned to Ireland.


The charge further alleges that Dunleavy put his mother's torso, severed legs and head into a suitcase and took the dismembered body to Corstorphine Hill where he buried her.


Prosecutors also claim that Dunleavy vacuumed and washed his flat to remove blood stains and torched a bed and mattress.


The trial continues.

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