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Man, 80, guilty of murdering secret lover and her young son 46 years ago

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William MacDowell, 80, was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 30 years (Images: PA)

A pensioner who murdered his secret lover and her young son almost half a century ago faces death behind bars.

William MacDowell, 80, was jailed for life with a minimum sentence of 30 years after being found guilty High Court in Inverness of the murder of Renee and Andrew MacRae in November 1976.

Police have never found the bodies of the 36-year-old mother and her three-year-old son, and detectives are urging the killer to reveal what he did to them so they “can be given the dignity they deserve.”

The judge, Lord Armstrong, told MacDowell: “These murders appear to have been planned, planned and carried out in the most calculated manner – not a spontaneous event or moment.

“These actually appear to have been executions.

“You murdered your victims and then disposed of their bodies and personal belongings, including the boy’s pram.

“You then took steps to cover up the crimes you committed.”

In addition to being convicted of the murders, MacDowell was also found guilty of attempting to defeat justice’s objectives by disposing of their bodies and personal effects.

It took the jury of seven men and eight women nearly four hours to reach their verdict, and the courtroom was breathless as their verdict was read.

MacDowell and Mrs MacRae – a mother of two separated from her husband – were having an affair for more than four years when she and little Andrew disappeared.

His wife Rosemary has stood by him in the decades since, even rolling him in court every day of the trial.

Renee MacRae, 36, and three-year-old Andrew Macrae (Image: PA)
William MacDowell and Renee MacRae (Image: PA)
A pram identical to Ms Macrae’s (Image: PA)
William MacDowell is wheeled into court by his wife Rosemary (Image: PA)

Mrs. MacDowell, seated in the visitors’ gallery, stared at the floor and, as her convicted husband was wheeled out of the courthouse by security guards, gave her husband one last look.

The court heard that MacDowell, of Penrith, Cumbria, killed Mrs MacRae and their son on April 12.

Her disappearance was one of the longest unsolved murders in Scottish criminal history.

Ms MacRae’s sister Morag Govans said after the trial: “More than 45 years of pain at losing Renee and Andrew does not abate.

‘Not a day goes by that we don’t think of both of them.’

The guilty verdict came after assistant attorney Alex Prentice KC told the jury MacDowell was the only man with motive for killing the couple.

He said MacDowell was becoming concerned that news of his affair would come out and what it would mean for his finances and lifestyle.

“Bill MacDowell’s life would change dramatically if all were to come to light. He would lose his job, his family and his home,” Mr Prentice said.

A photofit image of the suspect (Image: PA)
The double disappearance was one of the longest unsolved murders in Scottish criminal history (Credits: PA)

During his first police interview, MacDowell refused to admit any connection to Mrs McRae, only revealing this in a second interview later that same day.

Even when the case went to court, MacDowell maintained that if the crime did indeed happen, it was committed by Mrs MacRae’s estranged husband, Gordon MacRae, and other unknowns.

Mr MacRae, who was a director of Inverness firm Hugh MacRae Builders Limited, was asked by assistant counsel if he had played any role in the couple’s deaths. The 85-year-old told the jury: “Absolutely none.”

The trial was told they had a “friendly” relationship following the couple’s split, with Mr MacRae aware that his estranged wife was with someone else and that Andrew was not his child.

He had provided her with a home in Cradlehall Park, Inverness, and a metallic blue BMW.

The car was found burnt out at Dalmagarry Rest Area south of Inverness on the A9 the night Mrs MacRae and her son were murdered.

The burnt out BMW (Image: PA)
A Volvo trunk and interior lining (Image: PA)

Catherine Johnstone told the court her mother, Eva McQueen, heard a “blood-clotting scream” just a few hundred yards from the rest area at Dalmagarry Farmhouse.

Mr Prentice told the jury it was “the last statement made by Renee MacRae in his lifetime”.

MacDowell’s Volvo company was sighted nearby, the court heard, the very car he admitted burning part of the trunk of.

Ms Govans, now 84, told the trial of her sister’s devotion to her two boys and said her concern for their well-being grew when detectives visited her home after the disappearance.

She said: “I was very worried. I knew something terrible had happened to Renee and Andrew. I knew Renee would never have gone away, leaving her other son, Gordon, behind.

“I know Renee wouldn’t have done that to me. She would have contacted me if she went anywhere.”

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Man guilty of sending revenge porn photos of ex-girlfriend to his mum

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Cooper-Collyer was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court (Image: Getty)

A 23-year-old man has been found guilty of sharing explicit photos of his ex-girlfriend, which his mother sent to his ex-partner’s father.

Matthew Cooper-Collyer, of Monkton Green, Monkton Deverill, Wiltshire, was convicted after a trial at Winchester Crown Court.

He was accused of threatening to publish private sex photos in order to stir up unrest.

His mother, Lynda Collyer, 41, of the same address, previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and admitted to a second offense of malicious communications.

Helen Easterbrook, prosecutor, told the trial that the defendant recently split from his girlfriend, when his mother suggested to Collyer in a Facebook conversation that he send her the pictures, to which he agreed.

Collyer suggested her son should send the photos in a Facebook conversation (Image: AFP)

Collyer had also posted: “Happy Birthday” followed by the victim’s initials.

Ms Easterbrook said Collyer wrote that she would “give her (the victim) some drama she loves” and referring to the pictures she added: “Love her perfect shots you should have been a photographer.”

Prosecutors said Cooper-Collyer shared two intimate photos and a video with his mother, who then sent them to the defendant’s ex’s father the day before her birthday with the aim of causing her “grief.”

Cooper-Collyer told the court his mother wanted to send the photos because she claimed the victim was “ruining” the defendant’s life by making false accusations against him.

The case has been adjourned for the mother and son to be sentenced on January 12 next year.

Get in touch with our messaging team by emailing us at [email protected] County Report.co.uk.

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Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to murder and terrorism

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Payton Gendron pleaded guilty to charges including 10 counts of first-degree murder (Image: Reuters)

The suspect in a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket has pleaded guilty to charges including murder and hate-motivated terrorism.

Payton Gendron, 19, has been charged with 10 counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, one count of criminal weapons possession and one count of domestic terrorism.

Gendron had previously pleaded not guilty to federal charges, including hate crime charges, which carry a potential death penalty.

On May 14, a man opened fire at Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. The attack killed 10 people and injured another 3.

This is a groundbreaking story, check back for updates…

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Cryptologists crack 500-year-old code used by the Holy Roman Emperor

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Holy Roman Emperor Charles V used a sophisticated code to keep his messages secret (Credit: AFP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen)

A team of French researchers has cracked a secret code used by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V five centuries ago.

The Emperor and former King of Spain, used the code in a letter written at the height of his power In the 16th century. It was addressed to his ambassador in France in 1547, during a period of increasing tension between France and Spain.

Subsequent to Death of the British monarch Henry VIIIan important ally, Charles wanted the ambassador to report on the military maneuvers of King Francis I of France.

But because he was paranoid that the letter might be intercepted, he devised a complex cipher to keep its contents secret.

Since then, historians have puzzled over it.

The code was finally cracked after six months of work by researchers at the Loria research laboratory in Lorraine, eastern France.

To get to the bottom of the matter, cryptographer Cecile Pierrot ran the ten-page document through a statistical analysis program back in December 2021. However, the initial results suggested it would take the computer a period longer than the age of the universe to unravel the code.

Cecile Pierrot (left) and Camille Desenclos (right) examine the 1547 letter (Credit: AFP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen)

She spoke to the historian Camille Desenclos, who among other things sent her letters from Charles V to his ambassador. One contained a crude code key scrawled in the margin.

After months of work, Pierrot then found “unique families” of around 120 symbols used by the Emperor.

“Whole words are encoded with a single symbol,” she said AFP.

Other tricks used were replacing vowels after consonants with markers and inserting random symbols into the text that didn’t mean anything at all.

“It was painstaking and tedious work, but it really was a breakthrough in one day where suddenly we had the right hypothesis,” said Desenclos.

After they deciphered the message, it turned out that Charles had caught glimpses of an alleged assassination attempt against him in France. He wanted to know if there was any truth to that.

Researchers Cecile Pierrot (left) and Camille Desenclos (right) were the ones who cracked the code (Credit: AFP / Jean-Christophe Verhaegen)

Desenclos said “not much was known” about this alleged conspiracy before they deciphered the letter, but it was consistent with the “fear” Charles displayed throughout his reign.

In the end, the Holy Roman Emperor died of malaria while reclusive in a monastery, having abdicated from his various roles.

MORE : “Fake” Roman Emperor has been proven to be genuine by ancient coins that turn out to be genuine

MORE : The mystery surrounding Bruce Lee’s death may finally have been solved 49 years later

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