Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taxi driver goes on trial for lover's murder 17 years after she vanished

Kevin Doherty killed mother-of-two Jane Harrison before constructing a false alibi and even pretending to receive phone calls from her in front of witnesses, a jury was told.

Miss Harrison, 32, who had a one-year-old son with Doherty, disappeared without a trace in June 1995 just before the couple were about to go on a family holiday to Florida.

Doherty, 57, who also had three children from his marriage, had a volatile three-year affair with her after they met in a nightclub in 1992, the Old Bailey heard.

They would frequently row and split up, but Doherty told detectives he kept going back to his lover because he was “besotted” with her.

He is alleged to have murdered Miss Harrison and taken her body to a lock-up garage while pretending to be scouring the streets looking for her.

Doherty was questioned by police about his mistress’s disappearance at the time but was not charged with her murder until May last year.
The prosecution admitted that its case was “circumstantial” because Miss Harrison’s body had not been discovered, there was no direct evidence that Doherty was responsible for her death, and he had not confessed to the crime.

Jonathan Rees QC, for the Crown, said: “We are not in a position to call any eye witnesses who claimed to have seen the murderous attack or any CCTV evidence recording the event.
"There is no evidence that this defendant has admitted he has killed Jane Harrison. Instead the prosecution rely on what is commonly referred to as circumstantial evidence."

On the day of her disappearance, Miss Harrison went shopping with Doherty, who claimed he dropped her off at her mother’s home and then went to her flat in Highbury, north London.
He later rang the flat’s landline using his mobile and pretended the calls were from his lover in front of a babysitter and Miss Harrison’s teenage son, Ryan, the prosecution alleged.
The jury was told that when the babysitter left, she saw Doherty leaning against a window muttering, "Oh God. What a nightmare," and looking "sweaty and panicky".

Mr Rees said: "He had every reason to be, say the prosecution. This purported call from Jane to the house was nothing more than a continuation of a charade."
The prosecutor alleged that there was a discrepancy between the time when Doherty said he dropped Miss Harrison off and when he returned to her flat, which could be explained by him taking her to his lock-up garage in Walthamstow, east London.

When Doherty arrested, he told police he had an on-off relationship with Miss Harrison, sometimes breaking up with her and returning to live with his wife.

Mr Rees said: "He said he did not kill Jane Harrison and they had not argued. He said he was not a jealous person even though they had split up on a number of occasions. He said he kept going back and was besotted with her. It was a sexual thing and he was not in love with her."
Doherty, from South Woodford, east London, denies murder. The trial continues.

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