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10 August 2017, 14:45
The house that was at the centre of a search for a vulnerable missing woman is set to be demolished after it was ruled "unfit for human habitation".
Margaret Fleming, 36, was reported missing by her two carers in October last year from their home in Main Road, Inverkip, Inverclyde, but the last independent sighting of her was actually at a family event on December 17, 1999.
Police forensic teams spent months sifting through the house Ms Fleming lived in for any documentation of her life over the past 17 years, and a large garden at the property was excavated as part of the search.
Some reports at the time said rooms in the house contained tonnes of rubbish and litter.
The carers moved out of the property and no clues as to Ms Fleming's whereabouts were found by police as the search was extended to nearby water and woodland.
Inverclyde Council has inspected the house and it has now laid out a six-week deadline for demolition or urgent repair works to take place.
A spokesman said: "Our priority is to prevent anyone living in the property as it is in a serious state of disrepair, below the tolerable standard and therefore unfit for human habitation.
"The owner has six weeks to organise the demolition or arrange with the council to have the property repaired."
Ms Fleming is thought to have lived with her father in Port Glasgow before he died in October 1995.
She then lived with her grandparents and her mother, but later moved in with carers in 1997 and has been estranged from her mother since.
Earlier this year, police said they are still treating the case as a missing person inquiry but are not ruling out the possibility of ''something more sinister''.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Livingstone said: "Whilst we are keeping an open mind - her carers state that Margaret has a private side to her life, possibly having friends that they are not aware of - we cannot rule out the possibility that she has come to harm in some way.
"By this, I mean that she could have had an accident, possibly wanted to be missing or even something more sinister."
Ms Fleming is described as 5ft 5in with a heavy build, collar-length black hair and brown eyes.
When reported missing on October 28, she was said to be wearing a green tartan fleece, dark trousers, dark Karrimor boots and was carrying a handbag.