A WOMAN told a murder trial that she met Margaret Fleming four times between 1997 and 1999.

Cheryl Harrison, 54, from Irvine, Ayrshire, told prosecutor Iain McSporran QC that on two of these occasions Margaret had duct tape on her.

The second occasion was a dinner when she was sitting beside Margaret.

Mrs Harrison said: “Her hand was going blue. I said what's wrong with her. Eddie Cairney pulled her sleeve back and there was like duct tape on her wrist. It was her skin going blue. The tape was right round her wrist.

“Eddie said to Avril get that off her in a really stern voice and Avril pulled the tape off.”

The witness was asked how Margaret was and answered: “She looked quite frightened and she was shaking.”

Mrs Harrison said on a later visit to the house she saw Margaret with duct tape on her face.

The court heard that she and her husband John became friendly with Cairney and Jones after meeting him at disused dump where her husband was collecting bricks.

She said when she asked about this she was told it was to stop Margaret scratching herself and then told it was none of her business.

Mrs Harrison told the court she and her husband went on holiday to the USA from December 1, 1999 to March 1, 2000 and never saw Margaret when they visited after their holiday.

She said Avril told her Margaret had gone away with travellers.

Defence QC Thomas Ross, representing Cairney, said: “You never contacted the police about Margaret Fleming,” and she replied: “No, they came to me.”

The QC added: “It was 18 years before you mentioned this, you didn't report it at the time,” and Mrs Harrison said: “No, I thought social services were dealing with it.”

Defence QC Iain Duguid, representing Jones, asked her if she remembered a young friend of hers - -David Wilson - asking if she thought he should ask Margaret out.

She replied: “Yes, my husband John and I gave him advice not to as we thought she was underage. I thought she was about 15.”

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.