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Liam Fee: Teen who hurled abuse at child murderers “some kind of hero”

June 2 2016

A teenage girl who hurled abuse at child murderers Rachel Trelfa and Nyomi Fee outside court was spared jail. The girl’s lawyer Alan Jackson successfully argued that if she was sent to jail she might be regarded as “some kind of hero” for verbally attacking the pair. She hurled verbal abuse at the Fees before a police officer ordered her to be quiet, Livingston Sheriff Court heard. A television news crew recorded the 17-year-old – who can’t be named for legal reasons –shouting homophobic comments at the lesbian couple as they arrived at the High Court in Livingston. Trelfa, 31, and Fee, 29, were on trial for murdering Rachel’s son Liam Fee and trying to blame the killing on another child. They are currently awaiting sentence after being convicted earlier this week of murder, attempting to defeat the ends of justice and a catalogue of child assault and neglect charges. They have since been dubbed “the most hated women in Scotland” because of the cruelty they showed to two-year-old Liam who was in agony from a broken leg and arm from nearly a week before he died of a ruptured heart. The teen, from Livingston, West Lothian, had just been released from police custody on the day of the incident on May 12. She was immediately re-arrested and appeared from custody again the following day charged with an aggravated breach of the peace. She pled guilty to behaving in a manner likely to cause a reasonable person fear or alarm by shouting and swearing aggravated by sexual orientation. Sheriff Jamie Gilmour took other unrelated offences into account when he sentenced her to be electronically tagged on a nine-month curfew and placed under supervision for two years with 200 hours of unpaid work to be completed within nine months.  


Dundee attempted murder trial hears of ‘stabbing’

May 26 2016

A man told a jury he was cuddled by murder bid accused John McGrandle who then pushed him down a flight of steps and stabbed him. David Kettles, 45, was giving evidence at the trial of McGrandle, 42, who is accused of attempting to murder him at Court Street North, Dundee, on November 18. Mr Kettles told the High Court in Glasgow his girlfriend of 14 years Susan Robertson lived in the block of flats in Court Street North. He said he was visiting her and had popped out to buy some bread. When he returned he found McGrandle standing at the secure door entry system trying to get into the building. He said that McGrandle had a dispute with Robert Ramsay – known as Rab – who lived in the same block of flats and wanted to speak to him. The court was told that inside the building Mr Ramsay and McGrandle argued, and Mr Kettles said: “I just wanted to calm it down. I let Mr Ramsay into my girlfriend's flat because I thought he and John were going to start fighting.” This left Mr Kettles and McGrandle standing in the landing. Mr Kettles said: “I asked him to leave. He cuddled me and said alright and then pushed me downstairs.” He told the jury he thought that McGrandle had punched him, but added: “When the blood started coming out I realised I had been stabbed and I went into shock.” Mr Kettles was asked if he had seen a knife and replied: “It was definitely a knife. I saw the glint.” He was asked by defence counsel Ronnie Renucci: “You know Mr McGrandle was trying to get to see Robert Ramsay who lived in that block of flats,” and replied: “Yes.” Mr Kettles added: “He was taking his anger out on me. It was meant for Rab.” He denied a suggestion by Mr Renucci that he had grabbed the knife from the kitchen and stabbed himself after falling downstairs, saying: “I've never carried a knife or used a knife. I'm not a violent person.” Mr Renucci said: “You found out that Mr McGrandle had slept with your girlfriend two months earlier,” and Mr Kettles rep[lied: “Not at all my relationship is solid. She wouldn't sleep with that." “He's been talking about that saying 'I'm going to use that as my defence. I slept with his girlfriend.' It's rubbish.” McGrandle denies attempting to murder Mr Kettles by pushing him, causing him to fall down stairs and then stabbing him on the body with a knife. The 42 year-old faces a separate charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. It is claimed he ditched the knife used in the attack in a hedge and that he also hid in a wardrobe at a property in the city's Brantwood Avenue to "avoid detection, arrest and prosecution". McGrandle is also charged with assaulting a PC and resisting arrest. He denies all the charges against him. The trial before Judge Sean Murphy QC continues.


Football hooligans stage pitch invasion in front of 35 fans

November 3 2016

A hapless quintet of Fife football thugs staged a pathetic pitch invasion attempt after jumping a stock car track to jeer at just 35 fans. Bemused players looked on as the Raith Rovers crew brought play to a halt at during a youth match at Cowdenbeath’s Central Park. Lee Mullen and the small group of hooligans staged the bizarre invasion with a grand total of 40 fans in the stadium. A Cowdenbeath club official thought the group were on their way to the toilets before they jumped on the stock car track around the pitch then entered the field of play. Mullen, 19, was singing and gesturing before the group left the pitch and quickly exited the stadium before police arrived. Mullen, of Martin Crescent, Ballingry, who already has two football banning orders, was placed on a restriction of liberty tag for more than five months when he appeared at Dunfermline Sheriff Court. He admitted that on October 13 last year at Cowdenbeath Football Club, Central Park, while acting with others, he engaged in behaviour likely to incite public disorder by entering the field of play, singing and gesturing. Depute fiscal Dev Kapadia said: “The game involved was a youth development match between Cowdenbeath and Raith Rovers. “It started at 7.30pm and there were around 40 supporters there. "This included around eight to ten Raith Rovers supporters in the main stand supporting their team. “The match had been going for 10 minutes when five of the Raith Rovers fans came down the stairs in the stand. “One of the Cowdenbeath club directors saw them and thought they were going to the toilets but then saw they were on the stock car track and then on the pitch itself. “He then saw the referee had stopped the match and he phoned the police.” The five pitch invaders then left the stadium and on their way out were told not to come back and that the police were on their way. “The match was re-started and it would appear that the presence on the pitch of the group had resulted in some anti-social behaviour,” the depute continued. “There was a photographer present on the opposite side of the pitch and when he saw what was happening he took a number of photographs from which the accused was later identified. “He was also seen gesturing and singing when he was on the pitch.” Defence solicitor Alistair Burleigh said his client currently had two football banning orders in place, the latter imposed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in September. He added that Mullen had also recently served a four-month youth detention sentence. Sheriff Charles Macnair told Mullen: “It appears from these reports that you have a problem at football matches. "I take into account this was at a youth development game and the number of spectators was very limited. “On the other hand that meant there was less excuse for this and these were young people playing football. "Your behaviour would have spoiled their game apart from anything else.” The sheriff imposed a restriction of liberty order for 162 days. He said that it would be “pointless” to add another football banning order to the two already running. In April, Mullen had a two-year football banning order imposed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court following trouble at The Elizabethan Bar on the day of a Dunfermline versus Raith Rovers match in July 2014. He admitted that whilst acting with others he engaged in behaviour likely to incite public disorder by engaging in a fight on his way from the match.


Fife rapist jailed for nine years after two murder attempts

April 27 2016

A violent thug who raped and tried to kill two women has been locked up for nine years. Stephen White was jailed on Wednesday after being convicted at the High Court in Glasgow. One victim recalled how the 25 year-old would beat her up and demand sex.   He also knocked her out by choking her while accusing of cheating with other men. The second woman also suffered a similar ordeal as she remembered how White would "batter" her. White was found guilty following a trial of rape and attempted murder. He was also convicted of assaulting a third woman and attacking a man. The crimes occurred in Dunfermline, Fife between 2005 and 2014. Judge John Morris QC jailed him and also ordered he be monitored for a further three years when he is freed. He said: "I have to have regard to the protection of the public, particularly any females you get involved with." White - who denied the allegations - was also placed on the sex offenders register. Defence QC Frances McMenamin said: “At the time he thought the women were consenting to sex. He now accepts that they could not possibly have been.


Man tells Fife Christian Brothers abuse trial he woke up without pyjama bottoms

April 25 2016

A former pupil at a Christian Brothers school in Fife told a jury he remembered waking up in his dormitory with no pyjama bottoms on. The 50-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told prosecutor Kath Harper: “I woke up on one occasion, no in fact two occasions with no jammie bottoms on. They were on the floor.” When asked if he put them on the floor himself, the man replied: “No.” Miss Harper asked: “Did you feel anything unusual," he replied: “I was erect.” The man was giving evidence as the trial relating to allegations of historical child sexual abuse at St Ninian's School in Falkland continued at the High Court in Glasgow. John Farrell, who was a Christian Brother, denies indecently assaulting the man – when he was aged between 13 and 16 - on various occasions between March 3, 1980 and May 28, 1982, by removing his lower clothing when he was sleeping and handling his private parts. The witness added: “On one occasion I felt someone sitting by my bedside. It was very dark. But the hall lights were on and I could see a shadow.” The man said he got up after about five minutes put his bottoms on and went to the toilet. He added: “When I came back Brother Farrell was standing there.” He added that he had noticed a “damp, fusty beer smell,” and was asked what he connected that smell with and replied: “Brother Farrell. The man also claimed that Farrell struck him with a belt. Under cross-examination by Edward Targowski QC, representing Farrell, the man agreed that he had visited Farrell in hospital in 1993 when he had had a heart bypass, and a few years later had had him as a guest at his wedding. Mr Targowski said: “You can't have thought he had sexually assaulted you if you visited him in hospital,” and the man answered: “It was always at the back of my mind. I always wondered if it was a dream or real.” The QC then said: “As far as Brother Farrell is concerned he never sexually assaulted you at all,” and the man replied: “Not true.” Farrell also denies striking the boy with a belt on his body on one occasion between March 1980 and May 1982. Co-accused William Don, a gym teacher at the school, denies assaulting the man between March 1980 and May 1982 by striking him with a flag pole and a hockey stick. The witness claimed that he had been hit once by Don, then said it was twice. He added: “He grabbed me by the privates and hit me with a corner flagpole, or a cricket bat or a hockey stick.” The man agreed with defence counsel Laura Thomson, representing Don, that he had given a number of accounts of what he alleged happened. Miss Thomson said: “Not all your stories can be correct,” and he replied: “It was once or twice. I can't remember, but I was hit.” John Farrell, 73, Paul Kelly, 63, Edward Egan, 78, Michael Murphy, 76, and William Don, 61, are accused of physically and sexually abusing boys at the former St Ninian’s. They deny the charges against them. The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.


Win £100 in the great #courierseagullselfie challenge!

August 13 2016

From stealing sandwiches to attacking pets and even children, seagulls are bolder and more aggressive than ever before. The Courier has been inundated with tales of the winged menace from above in areas from Dundee to Kirkcaldy and Arbroath to St Andrews. In response, we’re launching our “Don’t be gullible” series online, in print and on social media We’ll be finding identifying Courier Country’s worst hotspots for attacks. We’ll speak to victims of seagull strikes, including one man whose nose was broken in an encounter with an angry bird. We’ll be asking what can be done to combat the increasingly aggressive incursions into our town and city centres. And we’ll find out why humans – and our litter – are the root cause of the problem. We’re also launching our #courierseagullselfie campaign. All you need to do is take a picture of yourself with a seagull in the background and post it to The Courier Facebook page or on Twitter using the tag #courierseagullselfie. We want to get you, your friends, family and children involved to highlight our drive. This is the kind of thing we're looking for: https://twitter.com/GullOfBrighton/status/735365652849041409 https://twitter.com/mtro1974/status/752219608879423489 There’s a £100 prize for the best pic as judged by our editor, so be as creative, crazy, cool or cheesey as you like. We'll name our winner in The Courier on August 20. Good luck!


Mary Logie murder accused to stand trial

May 27 2016

A woman is to stand trial charged with murdering an 82 year-old Fife pensioner with a rolling pin. Sandra Weir is accused of killing Mary Logie at the OAP's home in Leven, Fife on January 5 this year. It is claimed the 41-year-old repeatedly struck Mary on the head and body with the rolling pin “or similar instrument”. Weir is further accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by cleaning blood at the property and disposing of clothing. It also emerged on Friday that prosecutors claim Weir, of Leven, stole from Mary 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 Mary'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 – made her first public appearance in the dock at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday. Her QC Murray Macara pled not guilty on her behalf. He also lodged a special defence of alibi in connection with the murder charge. The hearing was told the case could involve 200 witnesses. Judge Lady Scott set a trial due to begin in December in Edinburgh.


Woman charged after mother-of-three’s death in Douglas

September 5 2016

A woman has been charged after a young Dundee mum died in Douglas on Sunday. Police were called to Ballantrae Terrace around 3pm on Sunday following reports of a disturbance. Several eyewitnesses at the scene named the dead woman as mother-of-three Marie Low. Family members posted tributes to Ms Low on social media. Between 15 and 20 police vehicles descended on the area with a cordon set up to seal off both ends of the street. According to locals, several children saw the horrific incident unfold. One woman, who asked not to be named, said: "I heard all the noise and came out to see what was going on ... The paramedics were trying to help her then started shouting because they needed to get her out of there." The street has terraced houses on one side and flats on the other. Crime scene officers remain at the scene with several uniformed officers stationed at either end of the terrace. A police spokesman said: "Police Scotland can confirm that a 30-year-old woman has been charged in connection with the death of a 36-year-old woman in Ballantrace Terrace, Dundee, on Sunday. "Inquiries are ongoing and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal. She is expected to appear at Dundee Sheriff Court on Tuesday."  


Projects shortlisted for Nature of Scotland Awards

September 7 2016

Projects from Tayside and Fife are among those shortlisted for the prestigious Nature of Scotland Awards. The finalists for the accolade were unveiled at a Scottish Parliament reception hosted by Mark Ruskell MSP on Tuesday. Now in their fifth year the awards celebrate the people, projects and organisations across the country working to protect Scotland's wildlife and habitats. The Colin Burt Wildlife Reserve in Killin is shortlisted in the Youth and Education category for its transformation of 50 acres of wet grazing ground and plantation into an accessible nature reserve where the local community can learn about conservation. Work to prevent field erosion at the Balruddery Farm of The James Hutton Institute, near Dundee, has been shortlisted for the Innovation Award. A project by farmers, land managers and estates in Fife and Angus to help reverse the decline in numbers of birds called corn buntings is shortlisted for the Food and Farming Award. Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Mark Ruskell is shortlisted in the Politician of the Year category for his commitment to environmental causes, first as a councillor at Stirling Council and since his election to the Scottish Parliament. Winners will be revealed at a black tie presentation dinner on November 24 2016, at Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh. Wildlife TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham will host the event. He said: “This shortlist shows there are people, projects and organisations across Scotland dedicated to protecting its wildlife and wild places, and the presentation dinner will be a fantastic event to mark all their achievements.”   For more information on the Nature of Scotland Awards visit: http://www.rspb.org.uk/natureofscotland


Lochgelly man jailed over child sex assaults

June 3 2016

A young man who committed sex acts with two under-age boys was “driven by a sexual attraction to children”, a court heard. Samuel McDonald – who admitted having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old and sexually assaulting a seven-year-old – was jailed for four and a half years at the High Court in Livingston. Judge Lady Scott also imposed an extended sentence which means he will remain under supervision for two years after his release and his name will remain on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely. The judge told McDonald, 21, from Lochgelly, Fife, that the licence conditions meant he would be returned to prison to serve the balance of his sentence if he reoffended. Passing sentence, Lady Scott said McDonald had “groomed” the older child by communicating with him and buying him alcohol before making him take part in disgusting sex acts. Lady Scott went on: “The second child was only seven years old. You were friends with his family and you grossly abused their trust. “Your crimes are liable to leave your victims with long-term damage. “The detailed background reports suggest you are driven by a sexual attraction to children. This course of conduct demonstrates this as does the information you volunteered. “The report presents you at serious risk of sexual offending and I’m satisfied that, having regard to that reason, an extended sentence is necessary to protect the public from serious harm.” She said she recognised that McDonald had learning difficulties and long-term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which made him act impulsively and made it difficult for him to form social relationships. She added: “I take into account you will be vulnerable in a prison setting but you will get comprehensive help to address and resolve your conduct.” The court heard earlier that accused had discussed online the "sexual activity" he had with the teenager. The boy’s mother alerted the police after she found explicit Facebook messages between her son and the accused. The boy later told police that 'stuff had happened' with an older person in a tunnel near Lochgelly. He said McDonald had made a deal that he would give him an electronic cigarette if he carried out a sex act. Michael Anderson QC, defending, said McDonald had had a “tragic start in life” and still suffered from the death his mother when he was aged five. His father had been “no support whatsoever” and he had been brought up by his grandparents. He admitted: “I recognise that this is a very complex case.” McDonald admitted committing the offences against the older boy inside a tunnel between between December 2014 and March 2015. He also admitted sexually assaulting the primary age youngster in the garage at his home on an occasion between February 22 2015 and May 9 2015. He was a first offender.