The jury has been asked to consider whether missing Blackpool teenager Paige Chivers is actually dead as the trial into her alleged murder nears its conclusion.
In a closing speech accused Robert Ewing’s defence lawyer, Stuart Denny QC, said there was no solid evidence to prove the schoolgirl had been murdered by Ewing.
Any case involving the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl and the possible killing of her is bound to trouble you but nothing is achieved by a solution that doesn’t follow the clear rules of evidence.Stuart Denny QC
He said: “This is a troubling case. Any case involving the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl and the possible killing of her is bound to trouble you but nothing is achieved by a solution that doesn’t follow the clear rules of evidence.
“If you say to yourself you are satisfied that she died that weekend and we know the circumstances and the late sighting evidence you can dismiss… then you convict.
“If, on the other hand, any or all of this may cause you to have significant cause for thought, then when you ask yourself the question are you satisfied, then the answer is no.
“If the answer is no then the only proper verdict is not guilty.”
The defence draws upon a number of reported sightings of Paige in the weeks after she disappeared, including a report made by her brother he had spoken to her at the family home as she collected clothes on September 4 - two weeks after the prosecution claim she was killed.
But the prosecution dismisses those alleged sightings as being confused accounts from witnesses who were experiencing trauma at the time they thought they saw Paige.
The prosecution also relies on covert recordings of Ewing and his friend Gareth Dewhurst in which they are heard speaking about the missing teenager.
But Mr Denny said the recordings did not reveal any clear evidence and were unclear at times.
In a key piece of prosecution evidence Ewing was heard talking to himself, saying: “The mystery deepens Paige Chivers. Hide and seek and you win this one. I tell you. Give up.
“Hand yourself in wherever you are.
“I might even be able to forgive you. If anyone comes and starts on me I don’t mess around.”
The prosecution claim he is then heard to say: “A quick hammer around the head and then they will be sorry.”
But Mr Denny said the audio was not clear and did not provide evidence Ewing had hit Paige with a hammer – an explanation put forward by the prosecution as to how Paige may have died.
He also asked the jury to consider the three spots of Paige’s blood found in Ewing’s flat, asking if she had been subject to a brutal attack which Ewing had cleaned up, would he have missed the visible evidence?
Paige has not been seen since August bank holiday weekend 2007. Her body has never been found.
Ewing, 60, of All Hallows Road, Blackpool, denies her murder.
His co-defendant Gareth Dewhurst, 45, of Duncan Avenue, Bispham, denies assisting an offender and a sexual offence.
Previous stories on the murder trial of Paige Chivers...