Manual for radio 'that hid Pan Am bomb' found 70 miles away

An instruction booklet for a radio cassette player - the device in which the Lockerbie bomb was allegedly hidden - was found amid aircraft wreckage 70 miles from the Scottish borders town where the bulk of the wreckage from Pan Am flight 103 came down.

The Scottish Court in the Netherlands heard yesterday from a woman who spent hours scouring the fields near her home, for pieces of debris from the plane.

Gwendoline Horton, 64, from Morpeth, Northumberland, told the court at Camp Zeist that she handed it to local police. At the time, no one was aware of the possible importance of the find.

Mrs Horton said she started looking for wreckage with her husband, Robert, after hearing from neighbours that local farmers had begun a search. She found the document, about eight inches long by eight inches wide, with writing on it referring to a radio cassette player. "We went out with the specific idea of collecting this stuff and my neighbour had said to hand it to the police," she said

"I remarked to my husband this appears to be from a cassette player. I remember it was something electrical."

As several relatives of the 270 victims killed in the disaster on 21 December 1988 watched from the public gallery, she was shown pieces of the document she discovered.

Brian Walton, a retired police constable, told the court that Mrs Horton handed the item to him at his station in Alnwick, Northumberland. "It was pieces of an instruction handbook. It had tiny bits of singeing on some of the edges," he said.

"At that time, the day after the crash or the following day, it didn't have the significance that it obviously might have now with hindsight. At the time it was just debris possibly from the aircraft."

The two Libyans accused of the bombing - Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, 48, and Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, 44 - are said to have packed their bomb inside a radio cassette player, which they then placed inside a suitcase with clothes and an umbrella. They deny charges of conspiracy to murder, murder, and a breach of the 1982 Aviation Security Act.

The court was adjourned yesterday afternoon to allow the prosecution team to consider a document from the defence that could allow the two sides to agree evidence relating to the recovery of debris.

Alistair Campbell QC, for the Crown, said such an agreement would speed up the trial, which is expected to last 12 months. The hearing continues.