IT was May 28, 2008, and Moira Jones was returning home after spending the evening with her boyfriend.

The 40-year-old lived in a flat on the Southside of Glasgow overlooking Queen’s Park.

The hardworking and talented businesswoman had moved to the city from London in 2003 with her work as an executive for the drinks firm Britvic.

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Moira, an honours graduate, had grown to love the city where she had made many friends and which gave her an ideal base to explore her love of the countryside.

She parked her black Toyota RAV4 in the street after 11pm and was walking towards her flat in Queen’s Drive when a chance encounter had horrific consequences.

The following morning a park ranger discovered a woman’s battered body in the centre of the park 300 metres away, face down in the middle of bushes.

He immediately alerted police who discovered Moira’s name and address from personal effects strewn near the body.

They contacted her family in Weston, Staffordshire, who were told that a body of a woman had been found and they feared that it might be Moira.

Moira’s parents, Bea and Hu, made the grim 260-mile journey to Glasgow where they were met by police and then carried out the harrowing task of identifying their daughter.

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The whole of Queen’s Park was sealed off, on the orders of Detective Chief Inspector Derek Robertson, making it one of the biggest crime scenes in Glasgow criminal history.

A post-mortem examination revealed Moira had suffered 65 injuries caused by blunt force injuries to her face and head through punching, kicking and stamping.

Moira had also suffered brain damage and a fractured cheekbone. Her body was covered from head to toe in bruising.

Detectives carried out extensive door-to-door inquiries and took more than 3000 statements and 250 DNA samples.

Meanwhile a dedicated CCTV team collected and studied hours of footage.

On June 2, with the killer still at large, Moira’s devastated family agreed to issue a media appeal.

Her mother said: “Think deep and hard, if you saw anything, if you heard anything. If you are in the least bit suspicious of anyone please tell the police.

“Don’t wait until the heart is ripped out of another family.”

Glasgow Times:

The first breakthrough was provided by CCTV.

Every camera on the route Moira took home from her boyfriend’s was traced.

That meant thousands of hours of CCTV footage, from cameras used in streets, businesses and shops.

A team of 40 officers based in Cathcart police office was dedicated to recovering all the tapes, discs and hard drives.

It was a race against time to seize all available CCTV because some systems are wiped quickly by owners.

It was through this process that they discovered CCTV from a passenger bus passing by Queen’s Park that had captured chilling footage of Moira being forced into the park by a man.

Meanwhile, the video trawl uncovered further crucial evidence, this time of a mystery man leaving the park, near Queen’s Park Baptist Church on Balvicar Drive, around 2.15am.

Separate clips captured the same figure, who had a distinctive swagger, discarding a laptop and then checking the back of his hand as he walked along Nithsdale Road.

Detectives consulted the UK National Criminal Database to see if such an offending pattern had been seen before – but the killer’s identity remained a mystery.

Despite the growing body of evidence they did not have a suspect or a name. It was almost as if he didn’t exist.

In a later interview in 2018, DCI Robertson said: “We were checking everybody out and we were doing everything but our intelligence was still pretty poor.

“Basically, what we were dealing with was a ghost.”

Every square inch of Queen’s Park was searched for evidence as to the possible identity of the killer.

Every piece of litter or scattered debris was collected, logged and examined.

On the night of Moira’s abduction and murder, several local residents had heard a woman scream in distress, but no-one had thought to call the police.

Though the killer had left traces of his DNA at the crime scene, there was no-one matching that profile on the UK police database.

However, they finally got their big breakthrough when carrying out door to door enquiries in the Queen’s Park area and spoke with a woman called Lucie Pechtlova.

Lucie told police that a Slovakian man had been staying with her, kickboxer Marek Harcar.

He was 6ft 3in, 33 years old and a former soldier.

Lucie had met him in 2007 when they worked together in Liverpool.

He arrived in Glasgow on May 18 that year and needed somewhere to stay.

Lucie said he could stay with her in her bedsit in Queen’s Park, a short walk from the murder scene.

However, it was a decision that she proved to regret.

Rather than going out to look for work he instead drank heavily all day and watched porn.

Lucie told police that on the night of May 28 he had left the bedsit around 10pm.

He was drunk having binged on vodka and beer and told Lucie he was going out to find a woman.

Harcar returned to the bedsit around 3.15am.

He appeared to be agitated and distracted as if he was scared of something or someone.

Harcar left the bedsit on June 1 and never returned.

He didn’t pack or take any of his belongings with him.

Police later discovered he had taken a flight to the Czech Republic, then a bus to his native Slovakia.

Lucie gave police his possessions which she had put in a bag in a cupboard and they were tested for DNA.

DNA from the bedsit linked him to the crime.

His black leather jacket also had Moira’s blood on it.

Harcar was tracked down on June 18, three weeks after the murder.

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 and Harcar was extradited back to the UK on July 18.

He was charged with murder and rape and his trial began on March 12, 2009, at the High Court in Glasgow.

The jury was told that Moira was murdered 10 days after Harcar had arrived in Glasgow.

His DNA was found on the victim with a billion to one chance that it was another person.

The police had also found Moira’s stolen camera on Harcar and it had photographs taken in his bedsit.

His defence insisted that the police had the wrong man.

The trial lasted around three weeks but the jury only took two hours to find him guilty.

Moira’s parents and brother, Grant, sat through hours of harrowing evidence and were in court when the jury returned its verdict.

Trial judge Lord Bracadale sentenced him to life in prison and to serve a minimum of 25 years before he could be considered for parole.

He told Harcar: “Your conduct that night reflects a level of wickedness very rarely encountered.”

Speaking outside afterwards, Bea paid tribute to her daughter.

She 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 also emerged that Harcar had 13 previous convictions in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, including four for violence.

In November 2016, after eight years behind bars in a Scottish prison he was allowed to return to Slovakia to serve the rest of his sentence.

Following her murder, Moira’s family set up the Moira Fund which helps provide financial support and counselling for people who have been bereaved by murder and violent death.

In the last 13 years the charity has helped hundreds of grieving families across the UK with grants for everything including funeral costs.

Glasgow Times:

Describing Moira on its website, the Moira Fund says: “She was beautiful from the outside all the way to the core.

“It was one of life’s privileges to spend time with Moira – she was unique.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Moira Fund can do so at