Belfast Telegraph

What Stephen Scott did to my pregnant sister Sylvia Fleming will haunt me until day I die

By Adrian Rutherford

The sister of a pregnant 17-year-old who was murdered, dismembered and buried under a house has said her evil killer's actions will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Sylvia Fleming was killed in 1998 in a crime which shocked Northern Ireland.

The pretty Omagh teenager was murdered by her psychopathic boyfriend, Stephen "Bulldog" Scott – the father of her unborn child.

Sixteen years on, Sylvia's family say they are still traumatised by her violent death.

In an interview to be shown tomorrow night, her older sister Josie says: "The thought of what happened that night in that flat will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Sylvia had met Scott through friends and, despite a nine-year age gap, was said to have worshipped the 26-year-old part-time fireman.

However, her family did not trust Scott, who was known in the area as a "Jack the lad".

He was also said to have a liking for violent sex.

"He loved himself, he just loved attention on him," Josie tells Britain's Darkest Taboos, to be broadcast on the Crime And Investigation channel tomorrow night.

"I did not like him at all, I knew that there was something about him. I knew he had control over her."

Sylvia moved in with Scott shortly after they started seeing each other, but the relationship deteriorated when he became too controlling.

She left him and moved into a friend's house, but soon discovered she was pregnant.

Sylvia kept in contact with Scott and, on Friday April 3, 1998, she visited his flat at Lisanelly Heights in Omagh.

He plied the vulnerable teenager with drink and sleeping pills, tied her up and killed her.

He then wrapped her body in a blanket and put it in his attic.

Worried by her absence, Sylvia's family went to Scott's flat seeking answers.

"We had our suspicions that he had hurt her," adds Josie.

"We walked into the flat and Stephen was sitting on the bed and his eyes were all red, pure red.

"I happened to glance up at the attic door, and he had seen me doing this, and he moved us into the living room and then he kept saying that he didn't know where she was, he hadn't heard from her.

"He seemed very agitated and he kept repeating himself. I did have a suspicion that he had hurt her and had her up in the attic. Never did I think it went as far as it did."

The family went to police reporting Sylvia missing. Meanwhile, Scott set about disposing of her body.

Josie recalled the moment she learned her "baby sister" had been savagely murdered.

"When the police told me they had found part of a body they thought was her, I remember thinking 'part of a body? What the hell has happened to my sister'," she added.

"We were devastated. We couldn't believe what we were being told – I've lost my baby sister."

Scott was arrested and charged with Sylvia's murder.

In 2000 he was convicted and ordered to serve a minimum 19-year prison sentence.

In March 2013 Sylvia's family learned Scott was due to start an early release programme this year, ahead of his official release date in 2017.

In 2012 it emerged body parts belonging to Sylvia had been retained by police for years after her murder.

Among the items kept was her unborn baby.

The family only found out when they received a visit from a PSNI liaison officer. They had to open Sylvia's grave to give her unborn baby a proper burial with her.

Josie said she and her family were trying to move on with their lives. "You have to remember the happy times – us always being away enjoying ourselves, laughing," she added.

"We will always be strong, and if anything, what's happened has made us even stronger.

"I do feel that my sister will always be there, all though my life. He will never break our bond – ever."

Britain's Darkest Taboos, tomorrow night at 9pm, Crime And Investigation (Sky 553, Virgin 237 and BT 433)

Gruesome murder by sadistic lover sparked rioting

Even by the standards of Northern Ireland, the brutal murder of Sylvia Fleming was shocking in its savagery and the depth of anger it stirred. The defenceless teenager was pregnant when she was killed, cut into eight pieces and buried by Stephen Scott, a psychopathic bully so violent he is said to have scared even Johnny Adair while in prison.

The killing caused so much outrage in Omagh that it sparked three nights of rioting, with relatives of the suspects being burnt out of their homes.

Sylvia was just 17 when her life was ended in April 1998. She had been training as a hairdresser and working at a local nursing home.

She had met Scott, then a 26-year-old part-time firefighter, through friends and had moved into his home. Scott loved to associate with impressionable teenagers, who were enthralled by his physique and macho boasting.

They would gather at his flat at Lisanelly Heights, where the thug, who was obsessed with serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Charles Manson, flaunted his love of violence.

Although she was scared by Scott, Sylvia initially went along with his sadistic desires because she wanted to feel loved. However, within weeks she had tired of Scott's controlling streak and moved in with a friend, only to learn she was pregnant.

Sylvia confronted Scott and the pair rowed, but days later went to her death when she called to his house.

He took the teenager to his bedroom and gave her alcohol and sleeping pills, blindfolded her and tied her to the bed. He then taped up her eyes and mouth, injecting her with insulin before she was strangled or smothered – her exact cause of death was never established.

Her body was hauled from the bedroom and hidden in his attic. The following day, after going swimming, Scott carried Sylvia down to the bathroom and cut her into eight pieces with a hacksaw.

Scott, and two accomplices, even stole £25 from Sylvia's pocket to buy bin bags to wrap her remains and cleaning products to try and cover their tracks. They then carried Sylvia's dismembered body in the bin bags, moving her around the house, before burying them about a mile away at a housing development on Circular Road.

Meanwhile, Sylvia's family were becoming more and more anxious for her welfare.

Her sister Josie confronted Scott who, she recalled, seemed very agitated. Later they went to police.

A missing person's appeal, issued on April 14, 1998, said officers were becoming increasingly concerned about her safety.

The trial later heard how Scott led another of Sylvia's sisters, Kathleen, past where he had buried her body.

A friend, who was also present, recalled: "It was very dark. We could not see much. I was uncomfortable in the dark.

"Scott said: 'Let's continue up a bit. Go and have a look. We'll never know what we might find'."

However, it was eight weeks before Sylvia's body was found under a partially-built house.

Police were led to the site by one of Scott's accomplices after they had spotted him acting suspiciously on the outskirts of Omagh. Seven parts of Sylvia's body, including her head, were found under the dining room.

On June 1, 1998, two days after the gruesome discovery, Scott appeared in court charged with murder.

Three others were also charged in connection with the case.

As public anger erupted, the homes of families connected to the accused were targeted and destroyed by vigilantes.

Nearly two years later, on April 1, 2000, Scott was found guilty of Sylvia's murder and sentenced to a minimum of 19 years in prison.

Passing sentence, a judge said: "This is a crime unique in its gruesomeness in my experience."

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