THE couple accused of murdering Margaret Fleming have failed in a bid to be released from custody.

Eddie Cairney, 76, and Avril Jones, 57, appealed to the High Court yesterday in a bid to overturn a decision by Sheriff David Hall to deny them bail when the case against them was fully committed for trial last week.

Their bail appeals were heard in Edinburgh but the challenges were dismissed.

It means that the pair will now remain locked up until they go on trial next year.

Cairney, who is represented by local lawyer Aidan Gallagher, is being held at HMP Greenock.

Jones, represented by Greenock solicitor Gerry Keenan, is held in custody at Corntonvale Prison.

Cairney and Jones each face four separate charges in relation to the alleged abduction, assault and killing of Margaret and an alleged fraud said to total more than £180,000.

Prosecutors say that the duo locked Margaret in a room within their former home, Seacroft, in Inverkip, bound her arms and wrists with tape and held her captive against her will between November 1 1997 and January 5 2000. 

It is alleged that between December 18 in 1999 and January 5 in 2000, while acting together, that by inflicting blunt force trauma on Margaret or means presently unknown, they murdered her.

The last independent sighting of Margaret — who was officially reported missing in October last year — was in December 1999.

The Crown claims that Cairney and Jones disposed of, destroyed or concealed her remains and pretended to authorities that she was alive in order to defeat the ends of justice, all between December 18 1999 and October 28 this year.

The pair are further accused of carrying out a £182,000 fraud by illegally claiming state benefits, disability payments and carers allowance on Margaret’s behalf while knowing that she was dead.