by SHAUN MILNE
A MAN dubbed the ‘Chloroform Killer’ and sentenced to 18-years behind bars over the death of a pub landlady from West Lothian has been freed after Appeal Court judges ruled the jury in his original murder trial had been misled by “bad science”.
Today’s decision by the courts is just the latest twist to the tragic tale of Yvonne Davidson’s death.
At 34-years-old she was found lying dead on a street exposed to freezing temperatures, leading investigating police to believe for more than a year that the tragedy was nothing more than a terrible accident.
But allegations of a boast to friends that McCreight had “got rid” of her led them to re-open the case which was to finally lead McCreight to be dubbed ‘The Chloroform Killer’ and jailed in 2002 for a supposed 18-years without release.
Less than seven years after being locked up, McCreight is again a free man.
He was accused of smothering Yvonne Davidson with the chemical as she slept. All the evidence suggested he then dressed the mum-of-three before dumping her outside in freezing temperatures.
Police spent 18-months thinking she had died in a tragic accident.
The chain of events that led police to McCreight go back to when he was accused of cheating on pub landlady Yvonne.
A court heard how she found out her rival was pregnant and led her to go out partying while forcing him to stay home as punishment, leading to a breakdown in their relationship
It was alleged in court that McCreight confided to friend David Stewart: “Yvonne’s doing my head in. I need to get rid of her.”
The crucial evidence led in court suggested an elaborate plot that he managed to get hold of some chloroform and soaked a cloth with the chemical before holding it over Yvonne’s face until she stopped struggling.
It was claimed McCreight then carried her down to the living room, dressed her and dumped her in a neighbour’s garden.
The next day neighbour saw a woman’s leg sticking out from bushes and police were called.
But because her body showed no signs of obvious injury and after tests revealed traces of amphetamine, medics simply concluded she had died from a combination of drug use and hypothermia and her death was treated as an accident.
A couple of months earlier, it was alleged McCreight had shown Stewart a bottle of chloroform and said “it would do it”.
Stewart later recalled: “To me, it meant he was serious about what he had been talking about – bumping off Yvonne.”
However the two men never discussed the death and McCreight later went on to be Stewart’s best man.
It was a year later that he decided to tell police his story. Only after another friend, Gary Espie appeared to back up Stewart’s story, did they re-launch their inquiry.
Samples of Yvonne’s blood were re-tested and the cause of death was changed to “chloroform intoxication”.
It was the way this evidence was presented that ultimately resulted in today’s decision by the Appeal judges.
They ruled the jury had been misled by “bad science”.
While in prison McCreight was slashed by fellow cons.
He also made what was seen at the time as an audacious bid to exercise his ‘right to buy’ the West Lothian Council home in Broxburn where Yvonne died.
That was only rejected by the council earlier this year when it was ruled that his conviction meant he should no longer be entitled to do so.
Yesterday’s decision may see that argument end up right back in the courts again.