A mother-of-11 was strangled by a strip of cloth wound round her neck three times, a murder trial was told on Tuesday.

Graham McGill, 59, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of murdering Mary McLaughlin in her home more than 36 years ago.

The body of 58-year-old Mary was found at her Glasgow flat on October 2, 1984, after her son Martin Cullen went to visit.

He could not get an answer and noticed a strange smell.

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Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked Mr Cullen: "What was the smell like?" and he replied: "The most horrible smell you could imagine."

Mr Cullen, 60, told the jury he got a key from a neighbour, but was still unable to get in the house.

He said:"I kicked the door in."

His ex-partner, June, went into the flat and came out screaming. She has since died.

Mr Prentice said:"Did you understand what had been found?" and Mr Cullen replied: "My mum was dead."

McGill is alleged to have assaulted Mary McLaughlin with intent to rape her and strangled her with a ligature.

The offence is alleged to have taken place at her home in Crathie Court, on Laurel Street, Partick, on September 17 or 26, 1984.

McGill is also accused of stealing a set of keys from Mary's home.

In a joint minute of agreed facts read to the jurors, Mr Prentice stated that when she was found Mary was lying on a bed on her back with her right arm lying on the side of the bed and her legs apart.

He added: “The body was in a state of putrefaction, especially of the face.

"A ligature was tied tightly round her neck and knotted on the side and deeply indented into the flesh of her neck.

“There was no trace of blood about the body or bed.

"A tie from a lady's dress or an apron past round the neck three times with two knots in it."

Pathologists estimate that Mary had died at least five days prior to the post mortem examination, which was held at 9.30pm on October 2, 1984.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Sarah Livingstone, Mr Cullen admitted that he told police in a statement in 1984 that his mother was “scared” about a month prior to her death.

The court heard the last sightings of Mary alive were at the Hyndland Bar and then Armando's chip shop, in Partick, on September 26, 1984.

A taxi driver told a murder trial that he saw a man following Mary hours before her death.

David Seager, 63, said that he knew Mary, knowing her as Wee May.

On September 24, 1984 he said she walked in front of his taxi carrying her shoes in her hands.

He said: "She seemed drunk."

Mr Seager told the jury that he saw a man standing outside a shoe shop.

He was asked by prosecutor Alex Prentice QC: "Was the man following her, is that what you thought?" and Mr Seager replied: "Well yes. Every time Mary walked away he was always behind her."

Earlier, one of Mary's daughters, 73-year-old Catherine Mullen, told the court the last time she saw her mother, on September 26, 1984, she was happy and playing dominoes in the Hyndland Bar.

Ms Mullen said she had to leave to catch her bus home.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked:"Did you ever see your mother again?" and Ms Mullen replied: "Never."

She was asked by defence counsel Sarah Livingstone if her mother was drunk that night and she replied: "She didn't act drunk, she was happy."

Ms Livingstone then said: "Sometimes when your mum had a drink she would invite people back to her house," and the witness replied: "Yes."

In her police statement, Ms Mullen said that on one occasion her mother invited home two men - one she knew and another she didn't know.

When asked about this in the witness box she said she couldn't remember.

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McGill was arrested and charged with Mary's murder on December 4, 2019 and made no reply.

McGill faces a further charge of threatening to murder Suzanne Russell and children at 218 Watling Street, Motherwell, between January 1, 1985, and December 31, 1988.

McGill denies all charges against him
The trial before Lord Burns continues.