William MacDowell: Man, 80, Sentenced to life in prison for murdering his lover and her son more than 45 years ago.

William MacDowell, 80, was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of 30 years in prison for the murders of Renee and Andrew MacRae in November 1976.

MacDowell, of Penrith, Cumbria, murdered the mother and son in a layby on the A9 near Dalmagarry, about 12 miles south of Inverness.

Mrs. MacRae’s BMW was discovered on fire in a layby, but the bodies were never discovered.

This is despite a massive police investigation following the disappearances, as well as additional investigations in 1986, 2004, and 2018.

One of the longest unsolved murder cases in Scottish criminal history was the double disappearance.

William MacDowel

Officers are now urging MacDowell to disclose what he did with Mrs. MacRae and her son so they can be “provided with the dignity they deserve”.

MacDowell, who was married while having an affair with Mrs MacRae, who was divorced from her husband, had been attempting to conceal their four-year affair.

During the trial, Alex Prentice KC stated that MacDowell was the only man with a motive for killing the pair, as he became concerned that news of his affair would be revealed, and what that would mean for his finances and lifestyle.

“Life for Bill MacDowell would change dramatically if it all came out in the open. He would lose his job, his family, and his home,” Mr. Prentice said.

MacDowell, who was wheeled into court by his wife Rosemary each day, claimed the murders were committed by Mrs. MacRae’s estranged husband Gordon MacRae and others unknown.

William MacDowell has been sentenced to life in prison for the murders more than 45 years ago

Mrs. MacRae’s sister, Morag Steventon, said after the conviction: “Almost 46 years on, the pain of losing Renee and Andrew in such a cruel and brutal fashion never fades.

“Today there is finally justice for them. It’s a day we feared would never come.

“They were both so precious to us and a day never passes without them both in our thoughts.”

“These murders appear to have been premediated, planned, and carried out in the most calculated way – not a spontaneous event or spur of the moment,” said judge Lord Armstrong after MacDowell was found guilty of the murders at the High Court in Inverness.

He added: “These appear, in effect, to have been executions.

“You murdered your victims and then disposed of their bodies and personal effects, including the boy’s pushchair.”

AcDowell was also found guilty of attempting to obstruct justice by disposing of the bodies and personal effects.

The latest investigation into the murders, Operation Abermule, was set up to find the killer and the location of the bodies almost 46 years after they were killed.

So far, it has only achieved one of its goals: MacDowell’s conviction following his arrest in 2019.

It has involved over 1,500 witnesses, many of whom have died or are no longer able to testify in court.

Pensioner is guilty of murdering his lover and their son, 3, in 1976 and  jailed for rest of his life | Daily Mail Online

“There is no doubt that the team that we had from 2018 onwards uncovered evidence that hadn’t been focused on before,” said Detective Chief Inspector Brian Geddes, of Police Scotland.

“We have certainly improved the known circumstances around Friday November 12 and beyond.”

The officer said he could “sympathize with many frustrations” as to why the conviction had taken so long.

But he stressed: “We have now achieved what we set out to achieve in 2018.

“And that’s in no small measure to what was carried out in 1976, 1987, 2004 onwards. That all helped us get to this point.”