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Girl 'refused lift on night she died'

MURDERED Elaine Doyle turned down a lift home on the night she was killed, a trial has heard.

In the witness box yesterday Ms Doyle's best friend, Lynn McCurdy, 44, yesterday re-lived an evening at a disco more than 27 years ago.

After the disco they walked to a food stall in Greenock town centre. At midnight they went their separate ways when Ms Doyle began to walk home, refusing the offer of a lift with another friend's brother.

Mrs McCurdy, nee Ryan, said her last words to Ms Doyle were "OK, I will see you tomorrow."

But for Ms Ryan, Monday June 2, 1986, began with a call from the Doyle family, asking if Ms Doyle was with her.

By 10am Ms Ryan was questioned by police after the body of 16-year-old Ms Doyle had been found yards from her home in Greenock's Ardgowan Street.

A post-mortem examination found she had been strangled, the High Court in Edinburgh has been told. As Mrs McCurdy described the weekend, the court was shown a photo of Ms Doyle, taken in a photo booth after a Saturday in a pool hall. That night she stayed at Ms Ryan's home. On Sunday, Ms Doyle went to a store in the town centre. Ms Doyle went home to get changed, then the two met up again to go to a disco at the Celtic Club.

Mrs McCurdy said she would be surprised if Ms Doyle would go off with a stranger.

But the trial has heard of an incident - described in statements to police - where Ms Doyle's father and police searched for her when she did not return home on time.

Ms Doyle was also said to have told her friend about a man offering her a lift. Mrs McCurdy said she could not remember this.

John Docherty, 49, now of Dunoon, denies murder and claims he was with his parents, who are no longer alive. Mr Docherty has also lodged a defence of incrimination, claiming the killer might be among a list of 41 names taken from files of the police murder probe.

The charge alleges that on June 2, 1986, in a lane near Ms Doyle's home, he seized her by the hair, struck her on the head and either removed or compelled her to remove her clothing.

The charge alleges that Mr Docherty forced Ms Doyle to the ground, pushed her face into the ground, sat or knelt on the teenager then placed a ligature round her neck and strangled her. Mr Docherty also denies stealing a handbag on the same date.

He further denies a charge of attacking another woman, Linda Hargie, on occasions between 1990 and 1995 by seizing her and pushing her and punching her on the head. The trial continues.

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