A woman accused of murdering a 22-year-old Ardrossan woman by slashing her throat from ear to ear was acquitted of the charge today in a dramatic development.

Angela Newlands broke down in tears in the dock and wept in relief as judge Lady Scott told the jury she had decided there was insufficient evidence to convict her.

Her parents John and Cheryl Newlands, who have been watching the trial from the public benches, also wiped away tears as she was formally found not guilty.

Newlands’ co-accused Jordan Johnstone who remains accused of murdering his sister Annalise Johnstone sat grim faced in the dock at the High Court in Livingston as the judge broke the news to jurors.

Lady Scott said: “I have heard legal submissions made in respect of the second accused in terms of the charge of murder.

“I have made a ruling that there is insufficient evidence which would entitle you to consider the evidence and convict on that charge.

“Accordingly I have acquitted the second accused on charge four. She remains on charge five on the indictment, that’s the attempt to defeat the ends of justice.”

She added: “I know this is a bit frustrating for jurors because you haven't heard the legal arguments and the decision’s been made in your absence.”

She apologised to jurors for the “uncomfortable conditions” they had been subjected to in the sunny jury room and adjourned the trial until tomorrow (Thursday).

Johnstone, 25, and Newlands, 28 still deny cleaning the vehicle they were using last May, burning clothing and falsely reporting Annalise as a missing person in a bid to defeat the ends of justice.

Johnstone denies an additional charge of assaulting his sister Shabbana in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on May 6 2018 by threatening her with a knife.

He was acquitted of assaulting Annalise on May 8 by grabbing her and pulling her from the Ford Galaxy in Beith, Ayrshire.

He was also found not guilty of stealing a Hobby Caravan and its contents from Carmichael Place, Irvine on May 9 after the Crown withdrew both charges.

On the final day of prosecution evidence, the jury heard that Newlands had told police she had hired Jordan Johnstone as her driver after she was banned from driving, but “believed he was gay” like his late sister.

Detectives said she had made it clear to them that her relationship with Johnstone was not sexual – even though they shared a bed when they stayed at her home in Auchterarder and at her parent’s house in Inchture, both Perthshire.

The jury heard that Annalise bled to death within minutes as a result of three overlapping,17cm ear-to-ear slash wounds under her chin.

Mark Stewart QC, defending Newlands, asked Detective constable Rachel Webster, 40, what his client had told her during an interview about the relationship between her and her co-accused.

He said: “Angela Newlands makes it clear they haven't had a sexual relationship. Beyond that statement AN gave you some explanation why that might be so – because she believes him to be gay? 

DC Webster replied: “Yes.”

Mr Stewart added: “That was established during the course of this interview?” She answered: “Yes.”

Turning to the detective’s inquiry about the clothing Johnstone had been wearing at different times, Mr Stewart reminded her of his client’s statement that the other accused had taken Annalise away and returned wearing entirely different clothing.

He went on: “The clothing wasn’t his clothing, it was Angela Newland’s father’s clothing. She wasn’t very happy about it.

“It was Jordan Johnstone alone who took Annalise away from Inchture late on the 9 May into the early hours of the 10th?” She answered: “Yes.”

Mr Stewart asked: “Throughout this entire interview she’s crystal clear Jordan Johnstone left Inchture with Annalise Johnstone in the Ford Galaxy and they left together and alone?” The officer said: “Yes, that was her position.”

Following the cross examination by Mr Stewart Judge Lady Scott warned the jury that any allegations made by one accused against another were not evidence.

Angela Keiro, 39, who has a cleaning business gave evidence that she lived at 7 Green Julien Place, Inchture, in May last year next door to Newlands’ parents.

She said she was wakened by her dog barking in the early hours of the morning of 10 May and looked out of her window to see several people around a caravan across her neighbour’s drive.

She told the jury: “When I looked out at 2am I also noticed that the lights were on in the caravan and I could hear voices within. The only voice I could recognise was Angela’s, just her talking. I just recognised her voice.

“I just presumed that the family had come back from their holiday.  At that time I saw John (Newlands) and Angela’s husband out in the street.

“I know that it was definitely John and Angela’s husband as I’ve lived here for almost two years and know who my neighbours are.”

She said she was unable to identify “Angela’s husband” because she had only seen him a couple of times more than a year ago.