by Paul Thornton, at the High Court in Livingston
THE devastated family of head in the bag murder victim Heather Stacey tonight called for her killer to be jailed “for a long time”.
Describing her as a “loving mother, daughter, sister and friend” they said they had been left bereft at knowing the suffering she endured at the hands of evil Alan Cameron.
Senior police chiefs who finally snared the 56 year old killer despite a horrific task trying to figure out just what had happened to her described Cameron as “inhumane”.
Cameron was found guilty by a majority jury today of killing Heather at her home in Royston Mains Place in December 2007 following a five day trial at the High Court in Livingston.
It emerged this evening that he had previously been jailed for six and a half years at the High Court in Glasgow for abusing three young girls.
He was jailed for sexual offences against children and put on the sexual offences register after being caged in November 1995 at the High Court in Glasgow.
Cameron was released from jail in June 1999 but made subject to the sex offenders register for life.
When he murdered Heather, sometime between November 29 and December 11 2009, a warrant was already out for his arrest.
It was issued by Edinburgh Sheriff Court on September 5, 2007 after he failed to turn up to answer claims he kicked a dog in July that year.
And just weeks before Heather’s decomposed body was found Cameron was convicted of failing to notify the police about where he was living.
Today it took a jury of eight women and seven men three hours to convict Cameron of murder by a majority decision.
They also found him guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice and theft by a unanimous decision.
Cameron will be given a life sentence on June 23 at Edinburgh High Court.
Deferring sentence for reports Judge Lord Matthews said: “It is apparent whatever happens that you treated this lady, who was entitled to look to you for love and support, like so much rubbish.”
He added: “There is only one sentence I can impose on you in respect of charge one and that is a sentence of life imprisonment.
“It will not be a short period.”
Craig Dunn, 35, described as a relative of Heather speaking for the family afterwards, said: “The family is absolutely delighted with today’s verdict.
“However this will never compensate for the brutal way in which Danielle’s mother’s life was taken and the pain and suffering she encountered at Alan Cameron’s hands.
“Heather was a loving mother, daughter, sister and friend who cared deeply for her family and friends.
“She had everything to live for.
“The devastation, trauma and grief suffered by our family will be with us forever.
“Today’s verdict will hopefully bring some closure.
“We would like to thank the police officers, detectives and everyone involved in the case from Lothian and Borders Police and special thanks to Alex Prentice, John Cooke and Derek Grey for their efforts and support.”
He added: “Just put yourself into the shoes of the family then you can imagine how everyone is feeling.
“We are just glad that Alan has been put away and let’s hope that he is away for a long time.”
The slaying came just weeks after he and Heather visited her mum, Elizabeth Egan, to announce their engagement.
But how he actually murdered Heather will remain a mystery unless Cameron confesses the truth.
Throughout the trial scientist and pathologists were unable to say what Heather’s last moments or the cause of death were due to the decomposed state of her remains.
But they were able to say that the father-of-two made a botched attempt at cutting up Heather’s body with a serrated kitchen knife before stashing her in a bedroom at her the flat.
Cameron spent the next year living in the same home, checking on the mother-of-four’s rotting corpse as insects infested it.
The shop worker text a woman pretending to be Heather and told others that he had heard from her in a bid to stave-off interest in her disappearance.
But in November 2008 he tore Heather’s body apart with his bare hands as the decomposed flesh began to fall from her bones.
Heather’s income support had been stopped months earlier and the City of Edinburgh Council made moves to evict her.
With authorities closing in on him Cameron moved, breaking the body into pieces and wrapping the various parts in bin liners and an Ikea bag in and dumping them around the Granton area of the capital.
Dog walker and make-up artist Anita Anderson, 41, and boyfriend Jem Kitchen, 47, stumbled upon her head wrapped in a bin liner and dumped on Hawthornvale Path in Edinburgh on Hogmanay morning, 2008.
During an interview at St Leonard’s Station he told police that Heather had been drinking huge amounts of alcohol in the days leading up to her death and was bedridden.
Cameron claimed that she had passed away on December 9, 2007 during a 20 minute period when he was out buying her chips.
With a warrant out for his arrest over an alleged attack on a dog in July 2007 Cameron claimed he “panicked” when he found the body on his return, but assumed she had died from alcohol poisoning.
The warrant was issued at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in September that year after he failed to turn up for a court appearance.
Cameron said that he was worried the authorities would not believe his version of Heather’s death and did not report it.
Instead he fled to Thurso to stay with friends over Christmas 2007, and maintained the pretence that he and Heather were still in a relationship.
Cameron feigned telephone calls to and from Heather and also sent a support worker who was helping Heather, Catherine Reid, a text message pretending it was from her.
In it and claiming to be Heather, he claimed that she had gone with him to Glasgow to watch over his daughter who was seriously ill.
Miss Reid, a worker with housing charity Foursquare, was forced to close her file on Heather after she did not hear from her in months. Little was she to know that Heather’s butchered remains were lying in her flat.
Over the next year he would raid Heather’s Post Office bank account. Between November 29, 2007 and October 28 the next year he drew a total of £4,965.88 at 12 shops in Edinburgh and Thurso.
With a history of alcohol abuse and a chaotic lifestyle it was little wonder than none of her four children, Danielle, 23, and Mark Williamson, 26, or youngsters Sophie, seven, and Brandon, 11, by another partner, did not contact her when they had not heard from her.
Danielle – Heather’s only child who gave evidence at the trial – said: “We were still close, we just didn’t see each other as much as we had before.”
When asked by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC whether Heather had stayed in touch after this meeting, Miss Williamson replied: “Yes, through text messages.”
But she said these messages stopped in November before police later broke the heart breaking news that her mother was dead.
Miss Williamson added: “I thought she had maybe just got a new phone or had lost my phone number or something like that.”
Miss Williamson – a financial crime associate – continued to attend the eight day trial but clearly found the harrowing evidence distressing, weeping throughout and leaving the court room on a regular basis.
And she was at the High Court in Livingston to witness as the jury returned guilty verdicts on all charges.
Dressed in a blue shirt and black jumper, Cameron bowed his head as the verdict was read out.
Cries of “yes” could be heard from the public gallery.
Lothian and Borders Police welcomed the verdict.
He said: “This is a truly shocking case. In my view Alan Cameron has shown a complete disregard for human life in the manner in which he has treated and disposed of Heather Stacey.
“I would like to add that it has been particularly distressing for the family of Miss Stacey and I would like to pass on my thanks to them who have co-operated fully throughout the investigation and recognise that it has been a terrible ordeal for them.
“It is fair to say Heather Stacey had a difficult life and had issues with alcohol, however in my view no human deserves to have been treated in such a manner.”
“It is clear from his actions that Cameron is a callous and calculating individual, whose only thought after murdering Heather Stacey was how he could evade justice.
“For more than a year he carried on his life as normal while hiding Heather’s body, before disposing of her remains in an utterly inhuman manner.”
“The verdict that has been delivered today will hopefully provide some comfort to Heather Stacey’s family, and I want to thank them for the assistance they gave police over the course of our investigation.”
Born in Glasgow, he has an ex-wife Elizabeth from whom he was divorced in 1993.
During his time in Edinburgh Cameron worked as a shop assistant at TK Maxx – he quit in 2007 after bosses became suspicious at the amount of time he took on compassionate leave after he claimed family had died.
He began working at the Spar shop in September 2008, months after Heather’s death. Yet he boasted to other staff members that he was in a relationship with her, showing them photographs he carried around with him.
Colleagues said that his mood changes suddenly shortly before the discovery of Heather’s body – they said he would regularly break down in tears and at times they could smell gangrene from him.
He was arrested at the supermarket on January 8, 2009, at which time he was living at a Salvation Army hostel in the centre of Edinburgh and has been held on remand ever since.
Speaking after the verdict, Area Procurator Fiscal for Lothian and Borders, Morag McLaughlin, said: “This was a very difficult case with huge legal challenges, not least because it was impossible to establish Heather Stacey’s cause of death, due to the advanced stage of decomposition in which her body was found.
“However, it was always the Crown’s view that the circumstances demonstrated that Alan Cameron had been responsible for Heather Stacey’s death, as well as the dismemberment and disposal of her body to which he pleaded guilty.
“Today’s murder conviction follows painstaking work by police and prosecutors and I hope Heather Stacey’s family will find some comfort in knowing her killer has been brought to justice.”
However there were recriminations that he was ever allowed to kill at all.
Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Baker said: “When a serial sex offender guilty of abusing three young girls is placed on the sex offenders register for life that should mean the strictest possible monitoring is put in place to protect the public.
“It is clear that the system has failed, meaning this vicious individual has been able to go on to kill.
“I have previously called on the Justice Secretary to undertake a full review of the operation of the current arrangements for monitoring sex offenders in light of a number of serious cases where the system has clearly not worked.
“It is clear to all that the monitoring of sex offenders is not an easy task.
“However, after tragic cases like this we must always be ready to ask the question – could more not have been done?”
John Lamont, the Scottish Tories new Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice, added: Clearly this was a horrific crime, carried out by a particularly evil individual with past form.
“I hope when the court hands down its sentence that his previous behaviour, his failure to comply with the law and the brutality of this crime are all taken into account.
“The sentence handed down must be the sentence served.”