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Man in court accused of murdering girl 27 years ago

A man accused of murdering a teenage girl more than 27 years ago has appeared in a public court for the first time.

John Docherty is accused of strangling and killing 16-year-old Elaine Doyle in Greenock, Inverclyde, on June 2, 1986.

He denies the charges against him and his trial is set to get under way next month.

Ms Doyle died on her way home from a disco before her body was discovered in a lane in the town.

Docherty, of Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, appeared at the High Court in Glas­gow yesterday for his first preliminary hearing in an open court.

The 49-year-old is charged with attacking Ms Doyle in a lane leading from Greenock's Ardgowan Street.

It is alleged he seized her by the hair, struck her on the head, struggled with her and removed, or compelled her to remove, her clothing.

As part of the murder charge, prosecutors further allege that Docherty forced the teenager to the ground, sat or knelt on top of her, placed a ligature around her neck and strangled her.

Docherty also faces two other charges, of theft and assault to injury. He is accused of stealing a handbag and its contents at a Greenock lane on the same day in 1986.

The Crown also alleges that on various occasions between January 1 1990 and December 31 1995, at addresses in Gourock and Greenock, Docherty assaulted Linda Hargie to her injury. He is accused of seizing her, pushing her, struggling with her and punching her on the head.

Docherty denies the charges against him and has lodged special defences of alibi and incrimination.

His lawyer, Donald Findlay QC, told the court that he was ready for the trial to begin at the end of next month.

It is expected to last between six and eight weeks, he told the court.

Judge Lord Bannatyne fixed a further preliminary hearing in the case for February 24 in at the High Court in Edinburgh. The trial is set to begin there on March 25.

The prosecution is the first to go to court following an investigation by the Crown Office's cold case unit, which was set up in 2011.

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