THE couple who are accused of murdering Margaret Fleming at their Inverkip home are set for their first High Court hearing.

Eddie Cairney and Avril Jones are due to appear in person for a calling of the case regarding a series of charges — including an alleged fraud said to total more than £180,000.

Prosecutors say that the pair locked Margaret in a room at their former home, ‘Seacroft’, pictured right and inset, bound her arms and wrists with tape and held her captive against her will.

Cairney and Jones are said to have committed these alleged offences between November 1 in 1997 and January 5 in 2000. 

It is further 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 did murder her’.

The couple are currently remanded in custody after being fully committed for trial during separate appearances at Greenock Sheriff Court last November, when Cairney was represented by defence solicitor Aidan Gallagher and Jones by defence advocate John McIlroy.

Cairney, 75, and Jones, 57, are due to appear for a criminal preliminary hearing at the High Court in Glasgow on February 21.

The last independent sighting of Margaret — who was officially reported missing in October 2016 — was in December 1999.

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

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