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WIFE SWAPPING CLUE TO MURDER; Victim may have fallen for sex trap.

A MAN battered to death five years ago may have been the victim of a kinky wife- swapping pact which went wrong.

Detectives investigating the murder of Robert Higgins, 35, now suspect he was lured to his death with the promise of sex before a mystery couple attacked him.

The vital new evidence emerged after Lothian and Borders police called in a Cracker-style psychologist from the State Hospital at Carstairs to investigate one of Scotland's most baffling murders.

The bloodied body of chicken factory worker Robert was found dumped in a quarry near the Forth Road Bridge on May 1, 1995, a few miles from his home in Dalmeny, West Lothian.

Now Detective Superintendent Ian Cowden hopes the investigation is on the verge of a breakthrough.

"This is a solveable case and I am hopeful that it will be solved," he said.

"We will be going back to Robert's death and re-examining every piece of evidence and every lead with fresh eyes."

He confirmed the expert analysis of Gerry Rooney, a criminal psychologist at Carstairs, had thrown up new leads.

The expert in criminal motives and methods suspects both a man and a woman were involved in Robert's death.

He believed the wounds inflicted on his body with a short steel knife were made by two people. And detectives now believe one may have been female.

One source said: "Robert had not been home for several days, but was clean-shaven when he was killed.

"He was staying with someone and was getting something there that made him want to hang around.

"The new analysis would suggest that something was sex."

The psychological profile of the suspects also suggests that Robert was killed near the hillside quarry, undermining speculation that he died elsewhere.

Despite a fingertip search, no evidence was found placing anyone else at the murder scene.

However, some of Robert's clothes have been sent to England for expert DNA analysis. Detectives are hoping that this technology, which has advanced in the five years since his death, may shed new light on the killing.

Robert had not been home for several days before his body was found and police believe he may have been staying with the couple somewhere in the group of villages south of the Forth.

Det Supt Cowden said: "The evidence would suggest those responsible for Robert's death lived locally or were regular visitors to the area."

Robert, who worked penning birds at Marshalls chicken factory at Newbridge, had last been seen the day before a few miles away in South Queensferry.

He was seen in the early hours with a mystery couple, who were never tracked down despite a series of public appeals for information.

The murder of Robert, who lived with his ageing mother, prompted a massive inquiry.

But the long-running investigation failed to find the killer, despite appeals on BBC's Crimewatch.

Rumours in the close-knit community have been rife in the five years since Robert died. Money-lenders, jealous husbands and professional hitmen have all been blamed for the death.

Police have even looked at the possibility that Laurel and Hardy fans, attending a convention at a nearby hotel at the time of the murder, could have been involved.

Robert's family, who raised a pounds 5000 reward in return for information leading to his killer, have not given up hope that the murderer will be caught.

Yesterday his sister, Brenda Walker, 38, said the years have not eased the family's grief.

"If anything it gets harder not easier," she said. "The knowledge that someone, somewhere is living with that secret is never-ending. How can they live with that?

"All we want is for it to be over so Robert can rest in peace."
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Author:Wilson, Jim
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 16, 2000
Words:618
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