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Murdered Aberdeen escort asked man when she would “get her £400” during taxi ride

Published in The Press & journal
7th January 2017


Aberdeen
An escort girl found dead in a city-centre flat asked a man when she would “get her £400” during a taxi journey through Aberdeen. Jurors at the High Court in Aberdeen heard evidence from cabbie George Greig on the third day of the trial of 26-year-old Bala Chinda.

He is accused of murdering Jessica McGraa by inflicting blunt force trauma to her head, compressing her neck, forcing her face into a pillow and asphyxiating her. He is also accused of holding her down on a bed and raping her at a property in Aberdeen’s Union Terrace on February 11 last year.

He faces further charges that he stole a key and two mobile phones from 36-year-old Miss McGraa, and disposed of his own handset in attempt to defeat the ends of justice.

Mr Greig told the court yesterday that he picked up a woman and a man from Union Terrace on February 11 last year, and that the taxi was dispatched at 12.34pm, with the fare completed by 1.02pm. He said he drove the pair to student accommodation at King Street, stopping for a few minutes while the man got out, and then back in again, before driving back towards Union Terrace and dropping them off.

A statement he gave to police after Miss McGraa’s body was found was read out in court. In it he stated: “At some point during that part of the journey I remember the lassie saying to him about when she would get her £400. I do not remember what he said in return. He said something, but I do not know what.” He also described the woman as being on her phone as they drove back to Union Terrace.

In the statement he said: “I assumed she phoned someone, but when I looked in the mirror I saw her on the phone and heard her say something like, ‘did you get your money Nick’.”

The trial also heard evidence from Detective Constable Joe McCrystal. The court heard that after a statement was taken from Mr Greig he and another officer went to the student accommodation in King Street on February 15.

They went to the room occupied by Chinda and the court heard that when he was spoken to initially he was asked to give his details, and by that point there had been preliminary inquiries into phone records.

Advocate depute Paul Kearney, prosecuting, asked DC McCrystal about a step taken to detain Chinda. He said: “He was advised it was in relation to the murder of Jessica McGraa between February 11 and 12, 2016?”

DC McCrystal agreed this was the case.

The court heard Chinda’s reply was: “On Thursday I met a lady at 10am at Union Terrace, we had sex and I left.”

His defence counsel, Ian Duguid QC, put it to DC McCrystal that his client was asked if he had been in Union Terrace on Thursday and he replied then, prior to any caution.

However, DC McCrystal disagreed with this.

Mr Duguid went on to ask him: “All the time with you was he quite cool, calm and collected?”

DC McCrystal replied: “He was very calm. The whole time he was calm. When the detention took place he was more shocked.”

Mr Duguid asked him: “In other words that the woman was dead and he was alleged to have murdered her shocked him?”

DC McCrystal replied: “His demeanour changed.”

The trial continues.