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Lochgelly school pupils join campaign to find Ava’s hero

November 13 2016

Teenagers at Lochgelly High are the first school pupils in Fife to join Ava Stark’s band of potential heroes. A total of 54 senior pupils at Lochgelly have registered for the Anthony Nolan stem cell register as a result of the campaign to find a match for local tot Ava. Anthony Nolan “student champions” welcomed members of the public to the school’s dining hall on Saturday, where an open event to find more potential donors was held by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. The event saw a further 85 people sign up and give saliva samples for testing. Thousands of people have already joined the stem cell register after an appeal was launched to find a match for three-year-old Ava, who suffers from bone marrow failure and needs a transplant to survive. Among the Anthony Nolan champions at Lochgelly are Emma Bell and Kelsey Crowe, who are both 16. The girls have joined the stem cell register and have been encouraging classmates who are old enough to do likewise. Emma said: “The presentation by the fire brigade was really inspirational. You never know, you could be a donor for Ava or somebody else.” Kelsey added: “I’m still young and my whole life is ahead of me so I wanted to help somebody else.” Colin Mercer, 29, and Linda Shanks, 30, turned up to register with 18-month-old Grace during the event on Saturday. Mr Mercer said: “We’ve seen the story on the news a couple of times. “I’ve got a little girl as well and it’s heartbreaking to see that someone could lose their little girl. “We’re here because even if we can’t help Ava, we might be able to help someone else in the future.” Amy Bartlett from Anthony Nolan said: "At Anthony Nolan we are so incredibly grateful to the school, the pupils, the fire service and the Stark family, and the communities of Fife for responding in such significant numbers to Ava's appeal. "There are thousands of other Avas out there and you could end up donating to anyone in the world."


Golf coach has £3,000 worth of equipment stolen

October 2 2017

A St Andrews golf coach has had £3,000 worth of clubs and equipment stolen. Tom Ogilvie, who is a teaching professional at The Duke's course, believes whoever made off with his clubs might try to sell them. He urged anyone who sees them for sale to contact police. "I've been keeping an eye out on Gumtree and eBay," he said. His golf bag, containing 14 clubs, and waterproofs were in the back of his car in Thomson Street, Dundee, when they were taken. The 22-year-old parked his car in the street, which is off the Perth Road, on Friday night and discovered the clubs were gone the next morning. The thieves managed to gain entry to his car without smashing any windows. "The value of the clubs is probably about £2,200. The irons and woods were pretty much brand new," said Mr Ogilvie, of Broughty Ferry. "On top of that, they took my waterproofs worth £800. "They were on the back seat of the car. I've got tinted windows and it's impossible to see into the back of the car." He added: "They're pretty important to me." The clubs are in a black, Titleist branded bag, which has a name tag attached. Inside the bag were clubs with black and yellow covers bearing the Duke's course logo. Police Scotland is investigating the theft.  


Fife mum proud to champion Alzheimer’s Research UK

February 15 2017

A Fife mother-of-two has been made a champion of Alzheimer’s Research UK after raising more than £40,000 for the charity. Cath Baxter decided to support the charity after her mum Liz Brown was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, which can affect personality and behaviour as well as memory, in 2012. “Fundraising for Alzheimer’s Research UK gives me something positive to do in the face of my mum’s condition,” said Cath. “I am really pleased and proud to have been chosen to be an Alzheimer’s Research UK champion. It is great to have this endorsement and I hope I can continue to raise awareness of dementia and funds for research.” The 45-year-old, who lives near St Andrews, raised more than £40,000 by organising an event in 2015 called Bike for Brains. Along with a group of friends, Cath cycled the length of the country from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 10 days. Liz passed away shortly after the New Year at the age of 76. She had latterly been moved to a care home when her dementia caused out-of-character behaviour and she started to become aggressive. Having at first experienced confusion and forgetfulness, Liz went on to become angry and frustrated as the dementia took hold. Liz went on to resist help from carers but things settled down when she went to the care home. Cath believes the surroundings reminded her of her time working in a hospital as an orthoptist. Cath said: “When I confronted my mum about her memory, she was most affronted. We finally persuaded her to have tests and her condition was confirmed, but she totally denied her dementia. She never admitted that she had it. “Her constant denial made it near impossible for anyone to help her or look after her. She hated people doing anything for her, although she had forgotten how to do simple, everyday things." Cath’s next fundraising endeavour is Sing for Brains, which is a come-and-sing performance of Handel’s Messiah in Edinburgh on April 22. Tickets and more information can be found at www.eventbrite.co.uk by searching Sing for Brains. Alzheimer’s Research UK chief executive Hilary Evans said: “We’re so pleased to be naming Cath an Alzheimer’s Research UK Champion. “She has worked really hard to raise funds for dementia research and increase much-needed awareness of the condition.”


Mary Logie murder trial: Grandmother suffered 31 head and neck injuries as she “tried to defend herself”

December 6 2016

A paramedic told a court tragic Fife grandmother Mary Logie had "defensive injuries" which left her hands  "swollen like boxing gloves". Giving evidence on the second day of a murder trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, Alan McIntyre said he arrived at Mrs Logie's home on January 5 to find her dying on her living room floor. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, which the court later heard was consistent with having been hit with a rolling pin. The court also heard that Mrs Logie had suffered a total of 31 head and neck injuries. "Her hands were swollen like boxing gloves," said Mr McIntyre, 60. He added: "These are defensive injuries." He was giving evidence at the trial of Sandra Weir, 41, who is accused of murdering Mrs Logie at the pensioner’s home in Green Gates on January 5 this year. When questioned by Alex Prentice QC, for the prosecution, Mr McIntyre said Mrs Logie's injuries were "incompatible with life" and efforts to resuscitate her were futile. She was pronounced dead by Mr McIntyre at 8.51pm. The paramedic told Mr Prentice that a stain on the carpet suggested that there had been an attempt to clean up blood. He said: "I could see, like a circle of blood that looked as if it had been cleaned." Mr McIntyre said there was fresh blood on top of the stain. Forensic pathologist Ian Wilkinson was next to give evidence. In his report, he stated that Mrs Logie had sustained 31 injuries to her head and neck. She had suffered "extensive fracturing to the skull", which Dr Wilkinson said was consistent with having been hit by something with curved and straight surfaces, such as a heavy rolling pin. Mr Prentice asked the witness if the injuries could have been caused some hours before death was pronounced, and if they could have been caused close to the time of death. Dr Wilkinson said he could not rule out either scenario. Defence QC Murray Macara asked if Mrs Logie's brain had been weighed as part of the post mortem. Dr Wilkinson said the weight "might be regarded as the lower end of normal". He also said there were signs of Alzheimer's. "She had pathological features which are seen in individuals with Alzheimer's disease but to tell you how significant these were in life it would need to be correlated with her behaviour," said Dr Wilkinson. Prosecutors claim Weir, of Leven, stole from Mrs Logie on various occasions over a near six-year period. The indictment alleges she took a bank card or cards in the pensioner’s name. She is also said to have stolen greeting cards containing money, cash, two rings as well as what is described as “correspondence”. The charge states this occurred between April 2010 and the day of the alleged murder. She faces another charge of using a bank card in Mrs Logie’s name to steal a total of £4,460. A further allegation claims Weir fraudulently used a debit card to buy £314 of goods at a shop in Leven. A separate fraud charge then claims she pretended to be authorised by the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity to collect cash for them. Prosecutors also accuse her of possessing drugs and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Weir — also known as Gaughan — has lodged a special defence of alibi in connection with the murder charge. The trial before Judge Michael O'Grady QC continues.


Man denies murdering Julie McCash and David Sorrie at vigil for teenager who fell from cliffs

September 15 2017

A man accused of murdering two people at a Dundee vigil following the death of a teenager in Arbroath denies the charges and claims he was acting in self-defence, a court has heard. The alleged stabbing took place at around 5am, just hours after Ralphie Smith, 18, fell from cliffs at Arbroath, the High Court in Edinburgh was told. The prosecution and defence have agreed evidence that Julie McCash, 43, sustained a single penetrating wound to her chest, and David Sorrie, 32, sustained a wound to his abdomen, from a knife held by Robert Stratton, which resulted in their deaths. Stratton, 43, has lodged special defences of self-defence and incrimination. A friend of the woman killed during the disturbance described her frantic efforts to resuscitate her. Wendy McKinney, 44, said she found Julie McCash’s lifeless body on Drumlanrig Drive after violence broke out as friends and relatives gathered to offer comfort to Ralphie’s family on February 26. Ms McKinney and her son, Darren Wallace, both admitted they had taken cocaine earlier that day and had been drinking. Ms McKinney said Dundee hairdresser Ms McCash had a stab wound just above her stomach and was showing no signs of life. She was giving evidence at the trial of Robert Stratton who faces a string of charges including the murder of Ms McCash and David Sorrie at a house on Drumlanrig Drive on February 26. Stratton denies all the charges. The court also heard evidence from Darren Wallace, 25, who said he heard Stratton say “who started on my wife?” He said: “Julie said she didn’t start on her but she was arguing with her. “He came across and he stabbed her. I thought it was a punch, but he stabbed her.” He said Stratton’s partner Lee Kinney had earlier been “shouting abuse” at the accused. “Everyone in the house got involved,” he said. He and his mother had been at another house on Drumlanrig Drive with Ms McCash and Ralphie’s mother Nicola Duffy, among others, until 5am. Mr Wallace told defence lawyer Edward Targowski QC he had taken cocaine at this house. Mr Targowski asked: “Were other people taking cocaine?” Mr Wallace said: “Yes”. He also told Mr Targowski that, following an argument between his mother and Ms Kinney, his mother, helped by Ms McCash, had lifted Ms Kinney up and taken her out the door. He said his mother then took Ms Kinney “by the wrists” in the garden and led her to her own gate. Mr Targowski put it to the witness that “there was a large number of people, a group of people, attacking Lee”. Mr Wallace said: “I totally disagree.” The first witness called was Police Constable Kyle Stewart, who said: “It was very emotional. People were shouting, crying and wailing.” Stratton denies murdering Ms McCash by striking her on the body with a knife. He further denies running towards Mr Sorrie while brandishing two knives, attempting to strike him on the body with the weapons and pursuing him and striking him on the body with a knife, and murdering him. He also denies a charge of assaulting his partner Ms Kinney by seizing her by the throat, throwing her to the ground, seizing her by the arms and hair and repeatedly pushing her on the body, picking her up and carrying her away, all to her injury. He further denies assaulting Ms McKinney by running towards her while brandishing two knives. It is claimed he attempted to strike her on the body with the knives. He also denies possessing cocaine. The trial continues.


Dunfermline Athletic standing by striker Nicky Clark after drunken bust up with cops

April 12 2017

Dunfermline Athletic has said striker Nicky Clark will face no penalties after his booze-fuelled bust up with police. Pars star Nicky, 25, and his brother, Royal Navy pilot Gary, were taken into police custody after swearing at and struggling with officers at Queen Street Station in Glasgow. The incident happened in November 2015, when Nicky was signed to Rangers. Dunfermline Athletic director Ross McArthur said: "The incident took place while Nicky was not actually employed by DAFC, but nonetheless we were aware of it and undertook an investigation into what happened prior to the case going to court. "We were satisfied with the outcome of our investigation and were happy to provide our support for Nicky. "As the matter has now been dealt with by the courts we would not wish to make any further comment." Appearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court, the brothers from Livingston admitted breaching the peace after a night out drinking to celebrate Gary being promoted to lieutenant. They had planned to catch a train back to Livingston that night. The court heard Nicky had told police: "You look like a bunch of boring b******s." The pair were told to leave but became abusive. Gary, 28, then shouted: "I f*****g fought for this country. I fought for you b******s in Afghanistan." Gordon Jackson QC, appearing for Gary, confirmed this claim was false. He said: "He's never been in Afghanistan." A struggle ensued with police and Nicky told officers: "You'll regret this. You've broken my £13,000 watch." Prosecutor Wendy Wilson said the catch had come undone, but the watch was not broken. Nicky's lawyer Billy Lavelle said: "They had had a great night out. The two brothers hadn't seen each other for a long time. "It started out as an attempt at banter and quickly escalated into stupid behaviour. "Nicky has never been in trouble before." Sheriff Kenneth Hogg fined them both £540. He told Nicky: "As a professional footballer, you are a role model. "People who travel on trains don't want this type of behaviour." Their father, Dunfermline Athletic assistant manager Sandy Clark, was in the public gallery during their court appearance. While Nicky does not face any repercussions at his club, Gary's conviction could affect his military career. A spokeswoman for the Royal Nay said: “The service will now consider the effect of the conviction on his career.”


Fife officer cleared of data protection charges

January 5 2017

A Fife policewoman who admitted using a known criminal to further her own career has been cleared of charges under the Data Protection Act. Nicole Short, 30, was found not guilty of accessing crime files and intelligence database entries relating to Dale Innes and his brother Matthew Innes while on duty at Glenrothes Police Station. The police constable's trial had been repeatedly delayed due to injuries she sustained in the incident which led to the death of Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy in May 2015. Ms Short had been due to stand trial in early 2015 but was said to have sustained "significant injuries" and following psychological and neurological assessments there were doubts the hearing would ever go ahead. As the trial got underway on Thursday, the court heard that in October 2012, an intelligence briefing issued by the former Fife Constabulary referred to Matthew Innes and a notorious local drug dealer. Ms Short told defence QC Shelagh McCall her ambition was to become a detective constable and as part of a performance review she was tasked with gathering intelligence on a "level one" drug dealer. She said she met former school friend Dale Innes on three occasions after they began chatting online. She said they were not "dates" but attempts to get close to him to build a case against his brother. She said: "Quite simply I would have done anything for my job." Depute Fiscal Mr Kapadia asked her: "Is it fair to say you were using Dale Innes to further your own career?" She replied: "I suppose so." The intelligence briefing had mentioned an unknown male associated with Matthew Innes. Ms Short said: "The only thing I was focused on was finding out who this unknown male was." The depute fiscal suggested Short had gone "under cover". She answered: "Dale knew I was a police officer. He knew my name, my family. Sorry, I'm going to disagree with you there." Mr Kapadia asked why she did not pass intelligence about the man or details about the make and model of his car to police. Ms Short said she did not have the chance because she was suspended over the data protection matter and was "completely cut off". Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC found Short not guilty of the charge. Mr Bayoh died after being arrested and restrained by police officers. The case is currently being investigated by police watchdog, the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC). Police Federation bosses say Short suffered "significant" injuries during the incident that led to the 31-year-old's death. She remains on sick leave.


Fife grandmother Mary Logie bludgeoned to death by neighbour desperate to feed heroin habit

December 15 2016

A neighbour of Leven grandmother Mary Logie has been found guilty of her murder. The jury in the trial of Sandra Weir delivered a unanimous verdict of guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday. During the nine day hearing, the jury had heard how Weir, 41, had delivered 31 blows to Mrs Logie’s head and neck with a rolling pin, leaving the 82-year-old with fatal injuries. When paramedics arrived at Mrs Logie's flat in Green Gates in the evening, the pensioner was dying on her living room floor in a bloodstained nightdress. A special defence of alibi had been launched, claiming Weir was elsewhere in Leven during the day and could not have killed Mrs Logie. But Weir attacked her victim before setting off in the morning and attacked her again in the evening before raising the alarm. Summing up, Crown prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said the case against Weir was “compelling and convincing”. Mr Prentice said there had been a strong motive for the murder, and Mrs Logie had been killed because of Weir’s greed for money to feed her heroin habit. Weir had stolen from Mrs Logie and was also found guilty of two further charges. The jury found Weir guilty of stealing quantities of money and a bank card belonging to Mrs Logie from her home between April 1 2010 and January 5 2016. She had also used Mrs Logie’s bank card to withdraw a sum of money from a cash machine. In her evidence, Weir had accepted the sum to be in the region of £4,000. A forensic biologist had told the court that blood spots on a body warmer worn by Weir were  "characteristic of the wearer being close to a source of wet blood when it was caused to break up into droplets”. The scientist said the blood spots were consistent with a rolling pin attack. Judge Michael O’Grady QC called for reports and strongly criticised the accused. Weir will return to the High Court in Edinburgh for sentencing on January 12. In Friday’s Courier, read: The verdict on Sandra Weir of the man who drove the investigation which put her behind bars How suspicion fell on Mary Logie’s friend and neighbour after the murderer emptied her bank account How Weir’s actions in the lead-up to the killing destroyed her victim’s health Judge Michael O’Grady’s portrayal of Weir as a “breathtakingly wicked” murderer Why Fifers should feel safe despite “carer” Weir’s horrific actions


Fife wedding dress boutique apologises to angry brides following shock closure

August 1 2017

The director of an ill-fated Kirkcaldy wedding dress shop has offered an apology to angry brides. High Street bridal boutique It's Amore closed its doors leaving furious customers who had already made payments for gowns. One bride-to-be, who had given a £400 payment, claimed she first heard about the shop closing through a Facebook post. Director Kelly Eadie gave an unreserved apology to all those affected by the business folding, blaming it on competition from online vendors and major retailers. She said efforts were being made to ensure dresses were delivered. “I have contacted the brides who are due dresses and said they have been paid and are getting sent direct to their houses with confirmation from the designer once it was paid," said Ms Eadie “The brides that have gone direct to the designer and paid for it were also told that a refund would be given for what they paid extra to the designer to get their gown. “I can only apologise again to everyone that has been affected by this and understand a wedding is stressful enough without this happening. “The shop was struggling for months and we couldn’t keep up with the outgoings.” She admitted she had left the job of dealing with angry brides to her business partner, Melanie Lingwood. “Yes I did leave Melanie to deal with all the angry customers and I have sincerely apologised to her for this," she added. Heather Blackwood, 41, who is marrying partner Alan McNiece, 46, in May next year was alerted to the shop closing via a Facebook post. Having already paid a £400 deposit, she managed to get a product code and details of the supplier from It's Amore and her dress is being delivered in November. She said the dress, which had a price tag of £800 in the shop, cost just under £400 direct from the supplier. "Although I'm not out of pocket, it cost £800 for the dress anyway," she said. "I've paid someone to do something for me, and they've not done it. "Kelly did apologise, but at the end of the day the apology doesn't mean anything because had I not seen the Facebook post I would still not have known anything about it." It was Miss Blackwood's second setback in her quest to secure her dream wedding dress. She previously tried to buy a gown off eBay but it never arrived, and she was given a refund.


St Andrews chippy is best in Scotland after once more battering the rest

September 13 2017

Upmarket St Andrews chippy Cromars has been named Scottish chip shop of the year for the second time. The restaurant in Union Street has won the regional title in the National Fish and Chip Shop Awards run by Seafish, having also been named best Scottish chippy in 2016. It is one of 10 regional winners set to compete for the national title, being announced in London on January 26. Having been in business for just over four years, Cromars has already accumulated accolades including Takeaway of the Year in the Scottish Food Awards and Best Fife Business in the Independent Retail Business Awards. Wendy Frame from Cromars said: “We are absolutely delighted today with our Scottish win, just two years from when we won this for the very first time. “It’s great to be through to the grand final. Our team have worked so hard and it’s a huge boost for everyone. We would love to secure a top three finish come January.” As part of the awards process, Cromars will be invited to join an expenses-paid study trip to Alesund in Norway, organised by the Norwegian Seafood Council. “It’s going to be fantastic to be a part of this,” said Wendy.