THE last people to see five-year-old Caroline Hogg before she

disappeared with a stranger at Portobello in July 1983 recounted these

final sightings at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.

The Robert Black trial heard that a scruffy man seen holding

Caroline's hand was spotted by a witness at the same spot about two

weeks later.

Although police were alerted, they took an hour to attend and the man,

seen by another witness buying Caroline a 15p fairground ride at the

time of her abduction, had vanished.

A Home Office pathologist told the trial yesterday that the child's

body was so badly decomposed when it was found in a ditch beside a

Leicestershire lay-by on August 3, 1983, that he could not establish a

cause of death. He believed the child had been identified by her hair


Mr Black, 47, a poster delivery van driver based in London, denies he

kidnapped and murdered Caroline, Susan Maxwell, and Sarah Harper.

Witness Scott Durkin, now 23, said he had been playing football on the

evening of July 8, 1983, and had seen Caroline playing alone on the


As he ran to retrieve his ball near Portobello promenade, he saw a man

sitting on the sea wall looking towards the swing park.

Mr Durkin said: ''It was a hot summer day. The man had on an overcoat

which I thought was strange. He just did not fit in.''

Miss Laura McPherson, 28, of Bathgate, a cashier at Tower Amusements,

Portobello, in 1983, said that after work on the evening of July 8 she

had gone to meet a friend and the two had sat together on the promenade


She had spotted Caroline sitting by the promenade railings dangling

her feet in the sand. Fifteen minutes later, around 7pm, she was

standing beside a bench close to a man.

Mr John Milford, QC, for the Crown, asked: ''At that time, did you

think there was anything particularly significant or important about

that? Did you ever dream that it was ever going to have as much

significance as it seems to have subsequently?'' Miss McPherson said she

had not.

She said the man was scruffy, aged between 30 and 40, around 5ft 8in

or 5ft 10in, of medium build, and with dirty, dark brown hair. He was

unshaven with about two days growth. He had been wearing a blue jerkin.

He had been about a foot away from the child.

She could not say where Caroline went or what had happened to the man

but around 10 that night she had joined in the search for Caroline.

About two weeks later, as she was working in the amusements, she

spotted the same man. She alerted the manager, Mr John Morrison, and the

man passed through the arcade and left by another door. Miss McPherson

said she had followed the man but had lost him in the crowd. They had

contacted the police, who had responded an hour later, the witness said.

There was then no sign of the man.

Mr Morrison confirmed that Miss McPherson had alerted him and that he

had lost sight of the man as he went towards a fairground. He confirmed

that the police had come, adding: ''Not promptly.''

Cross-examined by Mr Ronald Thwaites, QC, for Mr Black, he said that

Miss Macpherson had been quite definite that it had been the same man.

The court heard a statement made by Lee Demarco, eight at the time of

Caroline's disappearance, in which he said he had seen Caroline that

night and had spoken to her. She had not replied which had surprised him

because she was always chatty.

''She was with a man,'' the statement said, ''who was holding her left

hand. She looked frightened. I thought it was her uncle or something.''

The next time he looked round, he saw the man and Caroline at the

entrance of the fairground. That was the last time he had seen Caroline.

He described the man as well built and wearing glasses with lenses

''like bottle tops'' He had been wearing a dark parka with a hood.

Mr Derek Jackson, who had been 17 at the time of Caroline's

disappearance, told the court he had been working on the kiddies'

roundabout when he saw Caroline with a man he did not recognise. The

man, he said, was holding Caroline's hand and she seemed quite happy.

The man had paid 15p for Caroline to have a ride on the roundabout.

When Caroline got off, she rejoined the man and they left together,

holding hands.

Mr Jackson had told the police the man was about 40 to 45, stocky,

dirty looking, and with matted, dirty, dark hair which was quite short.

He had a growth of two days on his face and he was wearing spectacles

with dark brown National Health frames.

The trial, before Mr Justice Macpherson of Cluny, then heard evidence

relating to a journey which Mr Black made in his delivery van from

London to Scotland at the time of Caroline's disappearance.

By using statements from people who had bought fuel at a number of

service stations on Mr Black's route, and whose credit card dockets

bracketed those of Mr Black, the Crown was able to establish the dates

and times Mr Black bought fuel on the trip.

Much of this evidence and evidence of poster deliveries was a matter

of agreement between Crown and defence, Mr Milford said.

It was a matter of inference, Mr Justice Macpherson said to the jury,

that Mr Black had made his Edinburgh deliveries to Portobello Road.

The trial continues.