Tuesday 16 January 2018

Parents of missing woman didn’t go to police as they were threatened, court told

Christine Lavelle

THE parents of a missing businesswoman claim they did not go to the police when she disappeared because they were threatened by one of the men accused of murdering her, a court has heard.

Lynda Spence, 27, has not been seen since April 2011, but she was not reported missing until the following month.

Prosecutors allege that Colin Coats, 42, David Parker, 38, Philip Wade, 42, and Paul Smith, 47, abducted, tortured and murdered her, which the four men deny.

Ms Spence's parents, Patricia and James Spence, told the High Court in Glasgow that Coats came to their home and told them their daughter owed him £10,000 in the days after she disappeared.

Coats was "like a mad man", "banging his hands on the couch" when she got upset and mentioned getting the police involved, Mrs Spence, 56, said.

He apparently told them "I'll get years" if detectives looked into emails and files on his computer, the court heard.

Mr Spence, 68, said: "We discussed the situation about the money. My wife asked if (Coats) knew where Lynda was and he said he didn't.

"My wife got all upset and then he started losing the rag. She was saying that if Lynda owed him money then she was going to the police.

"Coats's reaction was to start banging the couch and saying 'You will not be getting any police. If the police get involved I'll get years'.

"He said 'Don't forget, I've got UDA people and London people'. It was a threat."

During her evidence, Mrs Spence said: "(Coats) started getting like a mad man, banging his hand off my couch saying 'you're not going to the police'. He said to Jim 'tell her she's going to no police'.

"He said something about if the police get into his emails he would be in trouble.

"I was just hysterical, screaming and that. That was just making him worse."

Mr Spence said he met with Coats and another man, Tony Kelly, at Rio Cafe in Partick, Glasgow, after his wife received a text apparently from Ms Spence, claiming to be in London, which said she spent Coats's money and that someone else called John Glen took £200,000 from her.

"I explained to Coats what had happened and he went pure white," he said.

"He sat there and the blood ran from him.

"I told him the wean (Ms Spence) had spent his money, had spent £10,000, that John Glen had taken £200,000 from her and she had pawned two of his watches.

"He was sitting down and got up for a minute. He said 'I've got to go outside and calm down'."

Mrs Spence also told jurors that Coats made her and her husband hand over their caravan in Burntisland, Fife because he believed he could sell it for the £10,000 Ms Spence allegedly owed him.

"When we were driving there I got upset just thinking about the memories we had there with the wean.

"(Coats) got out the car because his temper was up. He called her a scumbag and I was ready to answer back but his girlfriend squeezed my hand like 'don't'."

They were later given back the keys to the caravan because of unpaid fees associated with it, the jury heard.

Mr and Mrs Spence said they reported their daughter missing on May 13 2011 after a detective visited their home and told them he was looking for Ms Spence in connection with fraud inquiries.

They admitted to the court that they did not tell police everything they knew initially but gave another statement on June 2 2011 when Ms Spence's phone was found in a bin in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.

"I knew when her phone was found in that bin that there was something no right," Mr Spence said.

Solicitor general Lesley Thomson asked him: "So you gave another, lengthy statement at Partick police station and this time you told the truth?"

He replied: "Yes."

Mr and Mrs Spence told Ms Thomson that "the wean" refers to their daughter.

Coats, Parker, Wade and Smith are accused of taking Ms Spence from a street in Glasgow on April 14 2011. They are said to have held her hostage at a flat in West Kilbride, Ayrshire where they allegedly bound, gagged and assaulted her in an apparent attempt to extract financial information from her.

The trial before Lord Pentland continues.

When cross-examined by Derek Ogg QC, defending Coats, Mr Spence agreed that it was not the accused who made reference to "London people" and said it was Mr Glen who did so.

He also said he understood that the £10,000 his daughter owed came from Coats's parents' funeral fund.

Jurors heard later that Ms Spence's parents gave her money from the sale of her late grandmother's bungalow to start up her own business.

She was paying them back by covering their rent, her father said. But when the business folded the payments stopped, putting her parents in arrears.

He and his wife were living in the bungalow because of Mrs Spence's mother's ill health, Mr Spence told the court.

Mr Ogg said: "When she died, your wife couldn't stand staying there and it was sold, and the money went to help Lynda start her own business?"

"That's correct," Mr Spence replied.

Mr Ogg then asked: "And she was paying it back by paying your rent or mortgage?"

Mr Spence answered: "Yes."

The lawyer said: "Unfortunately, as with many things involving Lynda's financial affairs, the money was spent that was invested in her, and then the business folded and nothing came back to you. So, the money she promised to pay for you was just a promise because you ended up being evicted?"

"From Glasgow Harbour, yes. We went to a homeless place," Mr Spence said.

Ms Spence was a "good daughter", Mr Spence said, and agreed with Mr Ogg that she was not making the payments simply because she was "kind" but that because she owed it to them.

Mr Ogg asked the witness if he knew that his daughter was a police informer, to which Mr Spence said no.

"As a man of the world as you are, would you say Lynda's life would have been safe in Glasgow if it was known she was a registered police informer?" Mr Ogg asked him.

"Not if she was a registered police informer, no, " Mr Spence replied.

Mr Ogg also put it to Mr Spence, who the court heard has spent time in prison, that during the alleged conversation with Coats about getting the police involved in Ms Spence's disappearance, he had in fact said "we don't do police".

Mr Spence denied saying this.

The trial continues tomorrow afternoon.

Press Association

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