Channel 5’s documentary strand Reported Missing investigates the “sinister” disappearance of Glaswegian Lynda Spence and looks at who killed her and why…
Lynda was kidnapped and murdered in 2011. Police subsequently discovered she was a woman with multiple identities and underworld links. But how did she die?
Were her killers ever caught? The investigation became one of the longest murder trials in Scotland’s history… Here’s everything you need to know about who killed Lynda Spence, and why?
***Warning: article contains gruesome details of Lynda Spence’s death***
Reported Missing on Channel 5: What Happened to Lynda Spence?
The Channel 5 documentary examines the mysterious disappearance of financial advisor Lynda Spence. In 2011, she vanished without a trace from her hometown of Glasgow. As the police launched their investigation, they began to uncover she had multiple hidden identities, links to suspected gangsters and property fraud which stretched from Glasgow to London.
What followed was one of the longest murder trials in Scotland’s history… But without a body, the case remained unsolved. Fast forward to April 2022, when police reopened the search for Lynda. But did they finally find out what happened to her?
Who was Lynda Spence?
Lynda Spence was a 27-year-old financial advisor, who went missing in April 2011 in Glasgow. Her parents described her as “a loving, caring girl” before she was kidnapped.
She was declared bankrupt in December 2008 with debts amounting to £39,716.75. Those debts were written off a year later, and she set up her own mortgage and lettings company, Fraser Properties, in Glasgow.
But by 2011, Lynda was being investigated by the Strathclyde Police for fraud. During the trial for her murder, the court heard that Lynda had taken deposits totalling £175,000 from members of Glasgow’s Chinese community for properties in development in the Maryhill area of the city.
However, instead of using the money to secure the flats, it was alleged she spent the money on herself. She also owed £180,000 to property developer John Glen. He reportedly sent her abusive text messages threatening to cut off her fingers and chop off her head.
Who killed Lynda Spence?
Lynda’s meeting with Colin Coats, and their subsequent involvement, sadly cost Lynda her life.
Colin Coats, 42 at the time, was a violent criminal, who had previously been convicted of an air rage attack where he assaulted a member of cabin crew. Coats invested £85,000 with Lynda, which he claimed was all of his money.
Lynda initially promised a return of £100,000, but she didn’t or couldn’t return the investment. She gave Colin Coats the promise of millions from a land and property deal near Stansted Airport in Essex.
When his investment failed to prosper, a furious Coats began sending threatening messages to Lynda. She subsequently became desperate. Worried about Coat’s threats, she persuaded a Glasgow printer to produce fake Danish government bonds which were supposedly worth £6.6m.
This was not the first time Lynda had relied on fake documents. After her disappearance, 21 mobile phones were found in her home. There was also evidence of multiple aliases, which it was claimed she would use with clients.
What did Colin Coats do to her?
Once Colin Coats realised he would not get an investment from Lynda, he began his plot for revenge. His accomplice, Philip Wade, then 42, was a cocaine dealer who had been previously been convicted of drink driving.
On April 14 2011, Lynda was lured from her home in Glasgow to Coats’ home in the Ruchill area of the city. There, she was abducted by Coats and Wade who drove her to a quiet residential street in the Ayrshire village of West Kilbride. Two other men, David Parker and Paul Smith, met them there. Lynda was subject to merciless torture in the dingy attic of Flat 4, 114 Meadowfood Road, where she was taped to a leather computer chair.
On June 2, seven weeks after Lynda’s disapperance, Lynda’s phone was found in a rubbish bin in Ayrshire. Data from the phone revealed her last moments on the day she went missing. It revealed that she went to Colin Coats’ house. Parker and Smith were later questioned by police, and admitted that Coats and Wade had forced them to assist in Lynda’s abduction.
How was Lynda Spence killed?
Lynda was ruthlessly tortured by Coats, usually while Wade watched. The court heard how Wade brought a “torture kit” to the flat in Ayrshire, which contained garden loppers, bandages, surgical tape and a bucket. Wade tortured her with hacksaw blades.
The tip of Lynda’s pinky finger was cut off, and one of her toes was crushed by the loppers. Her hands were burned with a hot steam iron, and her kneecaps were brutally wrecked with a golf club. Parker, 38, who owned the property where Lynda was tortured, told police: “I know she was injured, but I didn’t know in what way. I didn’t want to know. She was in a frightened state. When they put the hacksaw blades through my door I realised it was high-duty serious.”
If you have any heart at all, any conscience, just tell me where she is and give me her back.
Smith said he and Parker were also offered money to “babysit” Lynda. He told detectives that he and Parker gave her cups of tea and soup, but did not allow her out of the chair, even to go to the toilet. Coats and Wade reportedly beat up Linda while questioning her about her bank accounts and finances.
Coats eventually extracted enough information to realise that Lynda had been handing over some of his money to Mr Glen, the property developer she had previously scammed. On April 20, Coats paid Mr Glen a visit and showed him a plastic bag containing Lynda’s thumb. It had the desired effect and Mr Glen handed over money to Coats. On April 27, Coats and Wade told Parker and Smith that they could leave the flat.
It is believed that Lynda was killed on April 28, 2011. That’s more than two weeks after she disappeared.
Where are her killers Colin Coats and Philip Wade now?
In 2013, Colin Coats and Philip Wade were eventually jailed for the kidnap, torture and murder of Lynda Spence two years previously. During the trial, David Parker and Paul Smith made a deal with the prosecution and became key witnesses in the trial.
Parker and Smith received 11 years each for assaulting Lynda and holding her captive. Forensic evidence placed Coats in the flat, and Lynda’s blood was found in the bathroom. Wade also provided testimony for the defence, where he claimed that Lynda stayed with them by her own choice as she was hiding from other people she had scammed. The key evidence from Parker and Smith meant that Coats and Wades were convicted of murder. The men were found guilty of kidnap, torture and murder.
Coats was told he must serve a minimum of 33 years in jail. Wade was given a minimum term of 30 years. The judge told both men they had been convicted of “a truly monstrous and barbaric crime”. He described Wade as a “violent dangerous man with no respect for human life or respect for civilised society”.
In 2019 and in 2021, Coats reportedly had his life sentence extended for possession of a weapon and a mobile phone in prison. It was also reported that Wade had “recruited prisoners” to carry out revenge bids on trial witnesses from prison.
Was the body of Lynda Spence ever found?
Sadly, to this day, the body of Lynda Spence has not been found. Coats reportedly boasted to a cellmate in prison that he smothered Lynda, cut off her head, and burnt her remains in a furnace.
Before the trial, back on April 29 2011, Coats and Wade drove to Tighnabruaich, Argyll in Lynda’s hired Vauxhall Astra. There, they asked Wade’s friend Lee Winyard if they could use his boat, but he refused. The car, nor Lynda’s body, has never been found.
In March 2022, police searched a remote area in Argyll for Lynda’s remains. The Scottish Sun reported that it was Colin Coats who pointed police toward the body of Lynda Spence after describing two unusual boulders. But after extensive searching, police called off the search in October 2022.
Lynda’s parents Jim and Patricia have tirelessly called for Lynda Spence’s body to be returned. In 2014, Patrica was diagnosed with cancer. She made a plea in the Daily Record to Coats and Wade to reveal the location of the body before she dies.
She told the killers: “If you have any heart at all, any conscience, just tell me where she is and give me her back. I’m asking you and I’m pleading with you. Give me Lynda back before anything happens to me.”
Reported Missing: What Happened to Lynda Spence? airs on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 at 10pm on Channel 5.
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