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Graham McGill murdered Mary McLaughlin by strangling the victim with her own dressing gown cord, whilst on temporary release from jail. However, a DNA breakthrough saw the 37 year old murder case finally closed.

On 26 September 1984, Mary went out with her daughter to the pub in Glasgow. The victim walked home alone, carrying her shoes and some fritters. However, McLaughlin was being followed. According to a nearby taxi driver, “Every time Mary walked away he was always behind her.”

Police believe the defendant struck up a conversation with his victim. Once in her flat, McGill began the sexually motivated attack.

Police found McLaughlin dead in her bedroom on 2 October 1984 then launched a major investigation. However, the mother-of-11’s killer was less than 50 miles away in HMP Edinburgh. In 1981, police convicted McGill of rape, where he served three years for good behaviour. His temporary release was part of a training for freedom programme ran by Scottish police. By November, the sex offender became a free man.

In 2019, detectives decided to untie the knot that the killer had tied around the victim. DNA analysis picked up a minor profile from the knot, which gave the police a prime suspect. The prosecution stated that the chance of the DNA belonging to someone that is not McGill is 85,000 to one. Also, police found McGill’s DNA on a cigarette butt, her dress, and her bra.

Police arrested McGill on 4 December 2019. According to Detective Superintendent Suzanne Chow, McGill “wasn’t expecting his past to come back and haunt him 35 years later.”

During the investigation, police interviewed McGill’s ex-wife, Suzanne Russell. According to Russell, her ex-husband admitted to strangling a woman during a conversation in 1988. However, he threatened his partner with murder if she told anyone.

A judge sentenced McGill to a minimum of 14 years in jail for McLaughlin’s murder. However, McGill continues to deny his guilt.

By Derry Salter

Cardiff University Journalism and Communications student. Intern for MMN.

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