A MOTHER broke down and sobbed in her husband's arms yesterday when a

jury returned a not proven verdict at the trial of a man accused of

murdering her daughter.

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There was screaming and shouting from the public benches at the High

Court in Glasgow as the verdict was announced. Francis Auld, 20, had

denied what was described as the brutal and ritualistic murder of

19-year-old Amanda Duffy, a drama student.

Her body was found in bushes at a car park in Miller Street, Hamilton,

on May 30 last.

The relatives of the dead woman had to be helped from the court as the

Judge, Lord Sutherland, discharged Mr Auld from the dock.

The dead woman's mother, Mrs Kate Duffy, 39, collapsed outside the

courtroom and was later taken unconscious from the building in a

wheelchair to a waiting ambulance after being treated by paramedics.

An official of Greater Glasgow Health Board said that Mrs Duffy had

been treated by a senior consultant at the accident and emergency

department in Glasgow Royal Infirmary who described her as ''stressed

but resting''. She was allowed to return home last night.

She had to be helped from the cab which took her and her 42-year-old

husband, Mr Joe Duffy, back to their house.

Both were too distressed to speak. But Mr Duffy's brother, John, the

dead woman's uncle, told of the family's reaction to the verdict last

night. He said: ''They are absolutely shattered, as are the whole

family. It is difficult to comprehend.

''Joe and Kathleen did not want anything to happen to the boy, they

just wanted to know that whoever murdered her had been brought to

justice. Now they will have to live the rest of their lives with this

unresolved. They are heart-broken.''

During the trial the jury of eight women and seven men heard that it

was an abnormal killing. It had ritual and sexual overtones because

twigs and branches had been violently thrust into the victim's nostrils,

mouth, and private parts and her face was almost obliterated.

Dr Marie Therese Cassidy, a pathologist, said the body had been

mutilated and Miss Duffy had a bite mark on her breast which must have

caused her pain and was inflicted shortly before death.

Mr Auld, of Douglas Crescent, Eddlewood, Hamilton, admitted to police

that he had met Miss Duffy and been kissing and cuddling her that night,

and that he had bitten her breast.

But he denied assaulting Miss Duffy, of Brackenhill Drive, Hamilton,

by repeatedly punching, kicking, and striking her on the head and body,

compressing

her neck, removing parts of her clothing, stamping on her face and

neck, biting her, and murdering her.

He also had denied forcing pieces of wood into various parts of her

body.

The court heard that Miss Duffy and the accused had been in the same

year at Holy Cross High School in Hamilton, and later were students at

Motherwell College.

On May 30 Miss Duffy had been out for the night with female friends,

and they met the accused by chance in a shopping precinct in the town

centre. She left her friends and went with him.

Mr Auld told police they kissed and cuddled in shop doorways, but he

claimed that she then went off with a man called Mark who had shouted to

her.

Mr Auld, who did not give evidence, told police that he went home, but

stopped on the way to climb a tree, took off his denim jacket, and lost

it.

The court was told that Miss Duffy's body was found the next evening

and hair, which forensic scientists said could have come from Mr Auld,

was snarled in a branch near her body.

The pathologist described her injuries and said one twig had been

forced up her nostril so violently that it fractured the skull and was

embedded in the bone.

She also had a broken nose, her jaw was broken in two places, and she

had other injuries consistent with being stamped on and beaten all over

her body.

Dr Cassidy agreed with Mr Donald Findlay, QC, defending, that whoever

killed Miss Duffy had gone further and mutilated and abused her body in

a ritualistic way.

Mr Findlay had called a psychiatrist, Dr Dallas Brodie, to give

evidence on Mr Auld's behalf and he said he found no sign of mental

illness, mental disorder, or personality disorder in the accused, who

seemed to be an ordinary young man.

Mr Findlay had told the jury in his closing speech that the Crown

would have them believe that Mr Auld changed from being an ordinary

young man into a monster, and back again, overnight.

Mr Auld is still going out with Carol Smith, 19. Her father, Mr

William Smith, said from their home in Kirkton Avenue, High Blantyre:

''Of course he is innocent. I am very pleased for Carol and for him. He

is a fine lad and I am happy for my daughter to be going out with him. I

don't expect to see them for a day or two -- they're going away for a

bit.''