ALARM bells rang almost immediately with Maggie Smythe’s family when she disappeared from her home in the middle of the night.

The 29-year-old bus station cleaner had gone out with her boyfriend straight after work on the evening of January 25, returning to her Swinside Road, Breightmet, home at 2.30am.

Maggie sat up chatting with her mother, Susan, while exchanging more than 80 text messages with her former partner, Christopher Taylor, who was telling her that he was leaving the area and wanted to see her.

Susan went to bed, but when she got up in the morning there was no sign of Maggie although her handbag and phone charger were still there and laptop still turned on.

READ MORE: Jury finds killer guilty of murder

It was as though she had just nipped out, but Susan was worried when she did not return and so, increasingly worried, went to see Tammy, Maggie’s sister.

Tammy rang the bus station and was alarmed when she was told that Maggie had not turned up for work as expected at 6pm on Saturday – it was a job she loved and would not have willingly missed.

Tammy rang the police and swung into action, contacting anyone Maggie may have been in touch with and organising searches via social media. But her disappearance remained a mystery.

However, within hours, police had a suspect – Maggie’s former boyfriend, Chris Taylor, a labourer with a drug habit who had a reputation for being unfaithful and had once been convicted of assaulting another partner.

Shortly after she was reported missing, officers visited the Greenroyd Avenue, Breightmet, home the 40-year-old shared with his current girlfriend, Vicky Ainscough and his 29-year-old brother, Brian Ottley.

He insisted he had not seen Maggie for weeks and had not owned a mobile phone for two weeks – the first of a catalogue of lies he told to try and avoid being caught for his horrific actions.

In fact he had been in touch with her regularly, including just hours earlier when he and Maggie had been exchanging messages. He had used Brian Ottley’s phone while he lay asleep on the sofa. The lie was soon to be exposed as Maggie’s boyfriend, Chris Whitehead, told Tammy that she had contacted him at 3am.

In her Whatapp message to him she said Taylor had asked to see her, telling her it was “in her best interests”.

Armed with this information, police went back to Taylor, but he repeatedly denied having been in touch with Maggie, telling them: “I’ve messed up a few times with Vicky. I’m on my last chance and I don’t want to ruin it.”

He claimed he had only been out once on Saturday morning to buy a bottle of pop from the Spar store in New Lane.

When police visited him a third time, at 11.30pm on Sunday they noticed he had a cut lip and his fingers had tape around them.

He claimed he had been assaulted but did not want to report it to police.

In fact, Taylor had spent the previous two days visiting the derelict Red Bridge Tavern, where he had previously been involved in work to convert into homes.

There he had brutally murdered Maggie and callously cut up her body in an attempt to dispose of her.

After killing Maggie, Taylor had roped in his brother to help him and the pair of them were seen on CCTV going to and from Greenroyd Avenue with bags.

On Saturday morning the pair pretended they were going fishing, carrying fishing gear and a bag towards the fishing lodge behind the Red Bridge Tavern, where Taylor climbed over a wall into the pub car park. The pair of them were there for half an hour before returning home.

Then the next day, shortly after the first two visits from police, Taylor told colleagues he would not be coming into work. Instead, at 8.30am, he and Ottley headed for the Red Bridge Tavern again, this time carrying a ladder and returning home again at 10am.

Within 15 minutes they were heading back to the pub, this time wearing hi-vis jackets and carrying a bag, staying there until 5pm.

The pair returned home separately, with Ottley carrying a bag and Taylor pulling along a wheeled case.

They went back to the pub for a third time that day at 7.20pm, staying only 15 minutes.

When police made their third visit to Greenroyd Avenue on Sunday night Taylor changed his story, admitting he had been to the lodge behind the Red Bridge pub in the early hours of Saturday, but claiming it was to collect fishing gear he had left there.

On Monday morning Taylor skipped work again, Ottley retrieved a bag from a wooded area and then both men headed back to the Red Bridge lodge, heading back a short time later with Taylor pulling along a case.

Two days later, on Wednesday January 30, police had gathered enough CCTV footage and evidence to arrest Taylor on suspicion of murdering Maggie. They found her mobile phone, broken in an alley behind Taylor’s home and one of her trainers close to the Red Bridge Tavern

Maggie came from a close knit family and her distraught relatives were still desperate to find her.

Interviewed the following day, Taylor repeatedly denied having been in touch with his former partner and knew nothing about the mum-of-three’s disappearance.

The same day police sealed off The Red Bridge Tavern after a recovery dog indicated that the car park was an area to be searched.

An unopened bottle of wine, later found to have Maggie’s hair on it, was discovered and, the next day, under a pile of rubble, they discovered Maggie’s remains. She was naked except for a black bra, was lying on her right side and her head, left leg and arm were missing.

There was semen, found to belong to Taylor, in her oesophagus and a saw found at the scene contained traces of her hair and blood.

A pathologist examined the remains but, without a head, said it was not possible to establish a definite cause of death.

Even when the body was found and police discovered CCTV showing him walking towards the pub with Maggie that night, Taylor continued to deny any involvement.

It was only as the trial approached that Taylor finally admitted he had killed Maggie, alleging they had met at the disused pub for sex but had argued and he had punched her once to her forehead.

He continued to deny he had intended to murder her but pretended to want to help police by telling them where her head was buried.

Six weeks after her torso was found, Maggie’s leg was discovered by a dog walker on land at the former Longsight golf club and Taylor told police he had put the head in a pillowcase and buried it in reeds at the side of The Bunk lodge at Firwood Fold, digging a hole with his hands.

But it was a lie, designed by Taylor to make him appear helpful, but making sure police did not find Maggie’s head, which could help prove how he killed her.

Despite an extensive search of the area, including taking Taylor to the site from prison, nothing was found and a forensic archaeologist concluded that it had probably never been there.

Taylor even tried to blame his brother Ottley, stating: “The only thing I can put it down to if it’s not here is that little s**t of a brother of mine’s had it and put it somewhere else.”

Maggie’s head has never been found.

Throughout the trial Taylor, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, continued to deny he had murdered Maggie and Ottley denied helping him dispose of the body.

But, fearful that their stories would unravel in the witness box, both men refused to give evidence in their own defence.

The jury of five men and five women saw through all the lies and convicted them.