EVIL Richard Karling was jailed for life yesterday after almost getting away with murder.

A jury found him guilty of drugging secretary Ms Dorothy Niven, 33, in a city restaurant and later smothering and murdering her in her home.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the following day, he called an ambulance claiming he had just found her lying unconscious and face-down on her bed.

But Ms Niven had been dead for more than 12 hours.

At first her murder went undetected when a post mortem examination found nothing suspicious about her death.

Meanwhile, Karling, 43, cried crocodile tears over her death, while thinking his well-laid plans had led to the perfect murder.

It was only the suspicions of depute-fiscal Mr David Green, who was present at the first post mortem in Glasgow's City Mortuary, which led to Karling's downfall.

The first police surgeon called to Ms Niven's house at Silvan Place, Busby, Renfrewshire, treated the incident as a ``sudden death''.

Later, Dr Ali-Alousi, who conducted a post mortem examination on June 30 last, did not ask for a second pathologist to help him because it was not reported a suspicious death.

He found that Ms Niven died of congestion of the lungs.

But Mr Green, who is married to a doctor, was not satisfied.

He learned also that the dead woman had two boyfriends, and ordered a second post-mortem examination at Glasgow's City Mortuary.

This was carried out two weeks later by pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy and a colleague from Glasgow University.

They found that Ms Niven had been suffocated and killed, and Mr Green instigated a murder inquiry.

Dr Cassidy noticed that the dead woman's pants were on back-to-front and inside-out.

She told Lord Johnston and a jury later that she thought the pants had been put on after her death.

Dr Cassidy was asked if the woman may have died while having sex with her face pressed into the pillow.

She said it was possible, but unlikely although the woman had been drugged and would not struggle much.

Karling claimed in evidence that he had adjusted the pants, but denied he had put them on after she died. He also denied having sex with Ms Niven after taking her home the previous evening in June 27 last, from the Pancake Place, Union Street, Glasgow.

Dr Cassidy said that by the time she examined Ms Niven it was too late to determine whether she had been sexually assaulted.

A sample of her blood showed traces of the sleeping drug Temazepam.

There was no sign of a break-in to the dead woman's home and police interviewed Karling, of Bellview Crescent, Ayr, and her fiance, William Lynch.

During his trial Karling named Mr Lynch, of Comely Park, Gallowgate, Glasgow, as the killer.

Detectives faced a classic ``who-dunnit'' mystery as they began a painstaking murder hunt.

Karling claimed Ms Niven led a double life, working as a secretary at the Students' Loan Company by day and in massage parlours at night.

His marriage to Sheila Ross, a daughter of the late Lord Ross, MP and Labour Secretary of State for Scotland, was breaking up in l986.

Karling claimed he met Ms Niven in a sauna in Holland Street, Glasgow, and began a stormy love-hate relationship with her.

Her mother, Mrs Ivy Niven, of Sandgate Avenue, Mount Vernon, Glasgow, told how Karling had thrown her daughter into a bath of cold water in his house in Ayr.

He also told her: ``If I can't have you no one else will.''

Karling was the general manager of a large television retail firm in Ayrshire and had money to spend on Ms Niven.

They had meals in good hotels, enjoyed foreign holidays and Karling claimed he gave her a car and furnished her flat.

But his drinking and obsessive jealousy led to a break up and she had to get a court interdict to stop him phoning or following her.

However, Ms Niven agreed later to see him again.

Both Karling and Mr Lynch were unaware that she was sleeping with them in turn.

But by this time Karling, a heavy drinker, had lost his well-paid job and he was living in a rented flat on housing benefit.

He faced losing Ms Niven again.

He began to plot her death and to spin the web of deceit as a cover up.

But Ms Niven's behaviour towards her fiancee William Lynch also helped lead to her death.

On the day she died Mr Lynch, a gas inspector, drove her to work after living with her for several nights.

She told him she was going to visit her mother in hospital.

Instead, she had arranged to meet Karling for a meal and then take him home, but unwittingly she was falling into his death trap.

Advocate depute Mr William Totten, prosecuting, told Karling in court: ``Dorothy was a young, attractive and vivacious girl and you were obsessed by her.

``You gave her a good time, and you had money to spend on her.

``The money, gifts and good times had run out and Dorothy had enough of the relationship.

``You would have been left without her, with nothing, and you decided to kill her.''

Asked by Mr Hugh Matthews, QC, defending why he had shown little emotion in the witness box, Karling replied: ``My tears are inside me.''

Karling sat impassively as the jury found him guilty of murder by a majority.