"My imagination terrified me."
It was the 28th of May 2008. A Wednesday. Forty year old Moira Jones was out that night. She met up with her boyfriend of four years Paul Thompson.
Moira lived alone in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, in a flat overlooking the park in Glasgow’s south side. She moved to Glasgow from London in 2003 for work and worked as an executive for Britvic. Moira loved living and working in Glasgow and had made many new friends since moving there. She especially loved the people in Glasgow due to their warm and friendly nature and their sense of humor. Glasgow was a great place for Moira to live as she enjoyed being outdoors so there were plenty of paths, hills, glens and beaches for her to go for walks and to explore.
That night, the 28th of May, Moira had planned to stay at Paul's house. She brought her overnight bag with her. But, after an argument, she decided that she wanted to go home and stay at her own flat instead. She never made it home that night.
The next morning, the morning of the 29th of May, a park ranger discovered a woman's body behind a privet hedge in the middle of Queen's Park, Glasgow. The body was lying face down in the middle of bushes and naked from the waist down with the exception of a pair of socks. The woman's jacket and bra were ripped and her trousers were between her legs.
Documents nearby had Moira's name and details on them and when police went to her flat, they discovered nobody was home. Fearing the body found was Moira's body, police called to her parent's house in Weston, Staffordshire. They informed them that they believed Moira's body had been found but they were not sure. They needed them to identify her.
Moira's parents, Beatrice Bea and Hubert Hu Jones, made the harrowing journey to Glasgow to identify the body. It was Moira. She had been raped and beaten to death. Moira had a younger brother Grant. Grant lived in Perth Australia and he got the next flight home to the United Kingdom.
Beatrice, Hugh, Moira and Grant Jones
While police now knew with certainty that the body was that of Moira Jones, they had no idea who killed her. They obtained some DNA from her body and quickly established that Paul had no involvement in Moira's murder. The police had a DNA profile of the suspect, but it didn't match any on the United Kingdom database.
Police identified some twenty two registered sex offenders who lived nearby and they spoke with each of them. They also spoke to people who had committed a criminal offense close to the park and to some underage drinkers who spent time drinking in the park. But none of those conversations led to any new leads. Police did however establish a timeline and had CCTV Footage of a man seen with Moira that they wanted to speak to.
Stills from CCTV Footage
Their biggest break in the case came when they carried out door to door enquiries and spoke with a Czech born woman called Lucie Pechtlova.
Lucie told police that a man stayed with her briefly. His name was Marek Harcar. Marek was a 6ft 3 inch thirty three year old former soldier from Slovakia. Lucie met him in 2007 when they worked together in Liverpool. He arrived in Glasgow on the 18th of May 2008 and he needed somewhere to stay and Lucie told him he could stay with her at her bedsit on Queen's Drive. But his time spent there was far from productive. He was supposed to be looking for work but instead drank heavily and watched pornography.
Lucie told police that on the 28th of May, he left the bedsit at around 10pm that night. She said that when he left the bedsit, he was in a drunken state and told her he was going out to find "whores".
Marek returned to the bedsit at 3.15am the next morning. Lucie told police that he was different after that night and he seemed "scared of something". Marek left the bedsit on the 1st of June and never returned. He didn't pack or take any of his belongings with him. Police later discovered that Marek boarded a flight to the Czech Republic and traveled by bus to Slovakia.
Lucie gave police his possessions and they were tested for DNA. DNA from the bedsit linked him to the crime. His black leather jacket had some of Moira's blood on it.
Marek was tracked down on the 18th June. He was hiding out in a house in the rural village of Nalepkovo in the Kosice region in Slovakia. A European arrest warrant was granted. Marek was extradited back to the United Kingdom.
He was charged with murder, rape and robbery. Marek's Trial began on the 12th of March 2009 in Glasgow and he pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
The Court heard that Marek arrived in the United Kingdom in 2007 and was in Glasgow for just ten days when Moira was killed.
It was the Prosecution's case that Marek was the person responsible. The Court heard that while Moira was just heading home the night of the 28th of May, Marek’s intentions that night were very different. He had been drinking heavily, beer and vodka, and had been heard saying that he was going out to look for a woman.It was their case that Moira returned to her flat from her boyfriend's house the night of the 28th of May. As she had planned to spend the night there, she had with her a large black overnight bag. When Moira got close to her flat, she parked her car sixty yards from where she lived, close to Queen’s Park. It was around 11.30pm.
It was the Prosecution’s case that at that point, as Moira walked from her car holding her overnight bag, Marek approached her and forced her to walk along the path with him. They were captured on CCTV footage that police obtained from a First Bus that had driven past them that night. The CCTV captured footage of two people crossing Langside Road and walking along the perimeter of Queen's Park.
The difference between the two people on the footage was clear for the Jury to see. Moira was just 5ft 4inches and weighed less than nine stone and the man seen on the footage appeared to be a lot taller than her, he was towering over her. It was the Prosecution's case that the man on the footage was Marek. At 6 ft 3inches and a kickboxing enthusiast he was much bigger and stronger than Moira was.
The Jury heard that a piece of handbag strap and some toiletries had been found on Queen’s Drive, just 10 yards from where Moira parked her car.
The Jury heard more about the route that the Prosecution argued Marek forced Moira to take. A witness told police that they saw a man and a woman at a holly bush near the tennis courts and six buttons from Moira's top and a cigarette butt which matched Marek’s DNA was found there. Further CCTV footage showed a man leaving the park alone near Queen's Park Baptist Church on Balvicar Drive at 2.15am. The Prosecution told the Jury that they believed that man was Marek.
It was the Prosecution’s case that when Marek forced Moira into the park, he savagely beat and raped her. They also claimed that he stole some of her possessions. The Autopsy revealed the extent of Moira’s injuries and the details of the harrowing attack that she had to endure.
The Autopsy revealed that it was unlikely that Moira died before 2am which meant that she may have been alive for some two and a half hours. The Autopsy revealed that Moira had suffered 65 separate blunt force trauma injuries, inflicted by punches, kicks and stamps. The injuries were as a result of "severe and sustained blunt force trauma."
Forensic pathologist, Dr Marjorie Black, testified and told the Court that the 65 external injuries included a broken nose and two black eyes. She said the number of injuries may be even higher than 65 as some of the bruises may have merged. The Court heard that Moira suffered brain damage, fractures to her right cheekbone and larynx and had bruised ribs. There was severe bruising all over her head and face and one of her front teeth had been knocked out. There was further bruising on her chest, back, legs and buttocks and Dr Black testified that:
"The bruising on the inner thighs is typical of someone's legs being forced apart or kept apart during an assault."
Dr Black testified that Moira's head and neck injuries were the cause of death. She told the Court that small haemorrhages in Moira's eyes may be an indication that there was an "asphyxiation element" to her death as well. Bruises on the backs of her hands and arms were "typical defensive injuries".
Dr Black testified that there was nothing to suggest that a weapon was used in the attack and it was her belief that the injuries were caused due to blows inflicted with a fist or feet. Due to the extensive bruising on Moira's neck, Dr Black testified that that bruising could have been caused by an arm, leg or knee compressing Moira's neck when she was on the ground.
The Court also heard that there was bleeding between some of the layers of Moira's brain and her windpipe was found to contain a "moderate amount of blood." This indicated that she swallowed the blood during the attack. Dr Black testified that there were other items that Moira swallowed during the attack. They included a bark fragment, grass leaf fragments, plant cuticle fragments and leaf skeleton fragments. She believed that she must have swallowed them while she was alive.
The Court heard about the DNA evidence that was found. A vaginal swab resulted in a semen sample being obtained from Moira's body and DNA found on Moira’s clothes and body was a match to Marek’s DNA and the Jury were told that there was a billion to one chance that it could belong to someone else other than Marek.
The Court also heard from a number of witnesses who heard noises the night of the 28th of May. One woman who lived in a flat overlooking Queen's Park heard a loud scream which was cut off. Two other couples heard Moira in distress as they walked past the park. A cab driver told his partner:
"If there has been a murder, then we have just heard it."
Despite the fact that it was late at night, it was still a busy street and a number of people were out and heard a woman screaming and in distress. Nobody called the police or helped Moira.
The Court heard from a neighbor who lived beside the bedsit where Marek was staying. He told the Court that Marek called to his house the night of the 28th of May and said:
"I am looking for a woman, I am looking for a woman."
The Prosecutor in the case, Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini QC, asked the Jury to find Marek guilty based on the evidence before them:
"It is difficult to imagine a more vile, wicked and barbaric murder witnessed upon Moira Jones. I ask you to return guilty verdicts based wholly on the evidence and not the emotion induced by the horror of the crime. Evil will not prevail."
It was the Defense’s case that police charged the wrong man. It was their case that three other men were involved in the murder and Marek had nothing to do with it. They argued that he was at Lucie's bedsit at the time. It was their case that three men were involved. Two of the men had stolen Moira's credit cards and they named one man, Jason Mulheron, as the real killer. He was a convicted sex offender and one of his previous attacks was similar to the attack on Moira. The Defense told the Jury that he lived in the same area as Moira and did not have an alibi for the night Moira was killed. They also told the Jury that he admitted that he murdered Moira to his ex girlfriend. The Defense told the Court that he said:
"It was me, I done the murder of that lassie in the park."
His ex girlfriend was so concerned that she told the police.
Jason testified. He told the Court that he did not admit to Moira's murder and he was not involved in her rape or death.
The Defense asked the Jury to find Marek not guilty and urged them to consider that another man was responsible for the murder. The Defense told the Jury to be sceptical when considering the DNA evidence that the Prosecution presented in Court. They said that scientists can only give a probability, and that DNA can only be used as a tool alongside other evidence.
Beatrice and her daughter Moira when she was a baby
The Trial took twenty days but it took the Jury less than two hours to reach their verdict. They found Marek guilty on all charges. The Judge, Lord Bracadale, sentenced Marek to life in prison with a minimum term of 25 years. At the sentencing hearing, the Judge told Marek:
"Your conduct that night reflects a level of wickedness very rarely encountered."
Beatrice, Moira's mother, spoke outside the Court and said:
"Moira, darling, darling Moira. We were so proud of you, we will always be so proud of you and we will do the best we can with our lives to make them worthy of you. You will live with us forever."
It emerged after his conviction that Marek had 13 previous convictions before he arrived in the United Kingdom and four of them involved violence. As a result of his conviction in the United Kingdom, he was placed on the sex offenders register and ordered to be deported when he released from prison. But in November 2016, he was transferred to Slovakia before his release and ordered to complete the rest of his sentence there.
After Moira's murder, her family set up a charity to help those bereaved by murder. The charity, The Moira Fund, helps families across the United Kingdom by providing grants to cover expenses such as funeral costs or transport to Court.
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