I'm haunted by the mystery of who killed my mum in her flat 30 years ago

A GLASGOW woman whose mother was murdered 30 years ago in an unsolved case said she will never stop searching for answers.

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Gina McGavin has written a book inspired by her mother's murder
Gina McGavin has written a book inspired by her mother's murder

Gina McGavin, 59, is still tormented by Mary Ann Mullen's final moments and struggles to come to terms with the brutality of her killing.

She has now written a book inspired by her mother's death in a bid to keep her memory alive and help her find some closure.

Mary, whose maiden name was Murphy, was found dead in her flat in Partick on October 2, 1984.

The mother of 11 had been strangled by a violent attacker who locked the door on the way out of her Crathie Court home, leaving her body lying for six days.

Mary was reported missing and later discovered by a family member who forced his way into her home after noticing a bad smell coming from the flat.

Detectives immediately launched a murder hunt and a public appeal for information in a bid to catch the killer.

Despite extensive enquires over the years, which saw them interview 6000 people, no-one was ever charged with the killing.

But police say the murder case remains open and on a list of unsolved crimes which is subject to "periodic review" by detectives.

During the initial investigation, police discovered that the grandmother - who was known at the time as Mary McLaughlin as this was her last partner's surname - was last seen in public at the Hyndland Bar in Hyndland Street, Partick, in the company of a young man.

Police issued a description of this man but he was never traced.

Gina was 30 when her mother was killed, just weeks after her father died suddenly at his home, also in Partick.

She has spent the last 29 years poring over the details of the case and nine years ago she decided to write the book.

Diamonds And Pearls is named after a lyric in her late mother's favourite song, Little Things Mean A Lot, by Kitty Kallen, and is written under the pseudonym of Jennifer Ullman.

Gina, who is now a grandmother herself, said: "I want my mother to know that somebody cared enough about her to keep trying.

"I have never given up.

"I am hoping that years on someone might remember something about the case and bring new information to light."

She added: "Writing the book was emotionally very hard for me because I had to relive it all.

"I didn't do it to make money, but I think every human being has the right to answers."

Gina describes her mother as a "lost soul".

Mary left Gina's father, Joe Mullen, when her daughter was just two years old.

She had six children with Joe and went on to have five more with another partner.

Gina said she had a tough upbringing and after her father was made redundant from John Brown's shipyard on the Clyde, the family's home was taken from them and she ended up sleeping in a stairwell, aged just 15.

But Gina managed to turn her life around and said she has never held it against her mother that she wasn't there for her in her younger years.

Two years ago, Gina sold her small business and moved to Turkey to write the book before returning to live in Glasgow with her husband.

The self-published book is now available on Amazon and has already sold 20 copies in just a few of weeks.

Gina said: "I still remember the day I got the phone call to say my mother was dead.

"I couldn't believe it because my father had just been buried about three weeks earlier, aged 68.

"I found it really bizarre that they had never ever divorced, despite being separated for 29 years, and they died within weeks of each other.

"I said to the police in disbelief, 'but my father had just died - he has only been buried a few weeks, how can my mum be dead?'"

Gina and her siblings rushed to her mother's flat, where detectives had already set up a cordon.

They were taken to Partick Police Station, but initially they were not given any details about Mary's death.

Gina said: "The police wouldn't release the death certificate, I don't have it and I have never seen it.

"It was released a year later to my step-brother and the cause of death, as far as I am aware, says strangulation by a ligature."

She added: "I didn't really want to look at it, I didn't want to read it.

"We don't know if she suffered any other injuries, we were never told."

She added: "The police said to me that there are details that only the police, my mother and the person who killed her will know.

"There are still questions that run through my mind. What state was she in? Was she afraid? Did she know the person? Was she scared? Was it over quickly? How much did she suffer?

"The killer must have been known to her because she wouldn't let a stranger into her house."

Gina said her mother's life at the time of her death was "chaotic".

She added: "She wasn't working, she liked to go out to pubs, she liked parties. Basically whatever went wrong in her life she still liked to have fun.

"I feel like she never really showed her true self. She wore a painted smile.

"But on the occasions that we did meet up she opened up to me and I felt sorry for her.

"I never held it against her that she wasn't there for me."

She added: "Something like this never leaves you.

"I hope that even if the killer isn't found in my lifetime, that someone will come forward in the future - maybe because of the book.

"It keeps my mum's memory alive."

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: "This an undetected murder which is subject to periodic review."

She added that detectives are always seeking new information and exploring advances in technology which may provide vital new evidence, and said: "Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact Police Scotland on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."

linzi.watson@eveningtimes.co.uk

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