Rory murder: Agony for family continues

Last updated at 08:51 31 August 2005

The distraught parents of schoolboy Rory Blackhall continued their wait today to discover if a man accused of abusing children and found dead by police killed their son.

Rory vanished after being dropped off near his school by his mother on the morning of Thursday August 18.

His body was found in woodland three days later covered in a tattered tent.

A post-mortem examination found he had been asphyxiated.

Yesterday, it emerged that Simon Harris, 37, was awaiting trial on sex abuse charges when he is suspected of killing the 11-year-old.

Harris, who is thought to have hanged himself, was released on bail after appearing in court earlier this year accused of abusing three young girls.

An arrest warrant was issued at Linlithgow Sheriff Court when he failed to turn up for a court appearance last Monday. Police said they were not alerted.

Sexual assault

His body was discovered on Sunday when his house in Livingston, West Lothian, was raided by police investigating the murder. Last night Lothian and Borders police would neither confirm or deny reports that Rory had been sexually assaulted.

First Minister Jack McConnell said no single part of the system should be blamed for what happened to Rory.

Speaking in Dundee yesterday, he said: "The fault, if there are any faults, could be in many different parts of the system," he said.

"But, I have no doubt whatsoever that our laws and our procedures to manage sex offenders in the community, to update and improve the system of bail, the way in which our courts deal with bureaucracy - which has become an issue this morning in relation to the local courts and the time it took to issue a warrant - and a whole range of other areas are in need of updating.

"We will look very carefully at what has happened here, learn the lessons if there are lessons to be learned and make sure that any additional measures we have to propose are included in the proposals we are putting forward in the weeks ahead."

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