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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Farming news

Aberdeen-Angus DNA test hailed by Victor Wallace

February 13 2015

The adoption of a new DNA test to authenticate the pedigree of all Aberdeen-Angus calves will put the breed in the vanguard of genomic technology, retiring Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society president, Victor Wallace, told a packed annual at Stirling. The society has decided to collect blood samples using special ear tags which incorporate a small uniquely identified receptacle. As the tag is inserted soon after birth the small amount of displaced tissue and blood is captured ready for future DNA testing. Responding to criticism of the society’s decision to use only one company, Caisley, for the collection of samples, Mr Wallace insisted Caisley was the only ear tag company which had the technology to meet the society’s required specification. “We invited a number of ear tag companies to tender and some didn’t bother to reply while others couldn’t meet the spec,” said Mr Wallace. “It is a simple and inexpensive system which most breeders are finding easy to use.” The aim is to collect blood samples from all bull calves to enable the sire of all calves to be verified in the case of any uncertainty or dispute and to authenticate beef being sold as Aberdeen-Angus.” The move by the society has been welcomed by major supermarkets selling Aberdeen-Angus beef. Mr Wallace added: “This process was extensively and rigorously tested with management and council visits to the manufacturers in Germany and the completion of field trials. After this process it was brought back to council and unanimously approved. “Like all changes, there has been some resistance but I am convinced that putting the society in a position to be leading in genomic testing can only be a good one. “We should be leaders, not followers.” Mr Wallace admitted that a £34,000 re-branding exercise carried out over the past year, which included the dropping of the society’s long-established black, green and yellow colours, left room for “significant improvement”. The issue, particularly improvement to the website, would, he said, be addressed in the coming year. The decision to prop up the pension fund of chief executive, Ron McHattie, by £120,000 in four tranches was defended by new president, David Evans, who explained that it was a “catching up” operation as the funding of the pension had not been addressed for 11 years and annuity rates had halved in that time. Mr Evans, who works as a financial adviser, runs a 60-cow pedigree herd in Cleveland with his wife, Penny, and has been chairman of the society’s breed promotion committee. He is planning a series of open days throughout the country this year to promote the commercial attributes of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. “There is a huge and growing demand for certified Aberdeen-Angus beef with the active involvement of most of the leading supermarkets in the UK and registrations in the Herd Book are at a record level and continuing to increase,” said Mr Evans. “But we can’t stand still and it is important that the breed adopts all the latest technology to take the breed forward in the future.” New senior vice-president is Tom Arnott, Haymount, Kelso, while Alex Sanger, Prettycur, Montrose, was appointed junior vice-president.

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Elders Court murder trial hears blood spots matching DNA of accused were found on door

January 29 2014

Blood matching the DNA profile of a Dundee murder accused was found on the front door of his alleged victim’s flat, a trial has heard. A police forensic scientist said the likelihood of it coming from anyone other than Matthew Pope was more than one in a billion. The trial in Aberdeen heard a pair of jeans soaked in blood matching alleged victim Michael Given’s DNA were also found in Pope’s girlfriend’s flat. Pope, 22, denies murdering Mr Given at his home in Lochee’s Elders Court on July 21 last year by punching, kicking and stamping repeatedly on his head and body and striking him with a piece of wood. A charge alleging Pope attempted to defeat the ends of justice by concealing and destroying evidence by hiding clothing and a piece of wood was dropped by prosecutors on Wednesday. During the final day of Crown evidence, police forensic scientist Fariha Abidi, 41, told the jury she had examined items and blood patterns in Mr Given’s sixth-floor flat and its surroundings. These included a fingerprint in blood matching Mr Given’s DNA and a blood swab matching Pope’s on the outer door of the flat. Ms Abidi had also tested fingernail swabs taken from Pope on July 21. She said: “One swab was blood-stained with a mixed DNA profile of two individuals. Matthew Pope and Michael Given could produce such a DNA profile.” Ms Abidi said jeans recovered from Pope’s girlfriend Melissa McKay’s second-floor Elders Court flat had saturated blood staining matching Mr Given’s profile in the knee area, indicating possible contact with “a large volume of blood”. Referring to blood found on Mr Given’s living-room wall, Douglas Fairley QC, prosecuting, asked: “Could it be consistent with a kick into wet blood at that level or a stamp into the source of blood or striking with an implement or weapon? “Yes,” she replied. Ms Abidi said a small spot of blood matching the DNA profile of Ryan Crighton was found on the living-room wall but that its age could not be determined. Cross-examined by defence QC Brian McConnachie, Ms Abidi agreed that no DNA matching Mr Pope’s profile had been found on two pieces of broken wood found in Mr Given’s flat and a communal bin. Pope denies murder and has lodged special defences of incrimination against Ryan Crighton and Aaron McHugh and a special defence of self defence against Michael Given. The trial continues.


Bleeding teenage thief caught red-handed after failed robbery

February 19 2016

A hopeless teenage thief is facing jail after he smashed his way into a house, cut his finger on the broken glass then pulled off his blood soaked glove and left it in the house for forensics officers to find. The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, broke in to the house in Dundee’s Landsdowne Place on November 21 last year. The boy who sat in the dock wearing a jacket bearing the logo “Weekend Offender” tried to steal a large screen TV and a £1,000 BMX, but couldn’t open the front door so had to leave the haul behind. Instead, he made off through a window clutching only a couple of pairs of trainers and PS3 games. But what he left behind at the house, which was empty as the owner was renovating it, led police straight to his door. The hapless teen cut himself on glass on the way in to the house, and smeared blood through his glove on several surfaces. He then peeled off the glove and left it lying in the house but continued to spread blood around as he rifled through every room. The teen, now gloveless, also left fingerprints on his entrance and exit points. Those, and the blood, were easily matched to samples taken when he was previously arrested and convicted for possessing an offensive weapon. The 17-year-old, of Dundee, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge of theft by housebreaking. Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and released the teen on bail meantime.

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose murder trial: Victim’s blood found in ex-boyfriend’s flat

December 14 2016

Blood matching Montrose mum Kimberley MacKenzie's was found throughout her ex-boyfriend's flat, a jury has heard. Forensic biologist Jacqueline Sharp told Glasgow High Court a total of 45 blood spots were found at the Market Street property of murder accused Steven Jackson. Miss MacKenzie's blood was also found on one of his shoes. Ms Sharp said spots of blood were found on a sofa and armchair in the living room, as well as on a glass table and skirting board. More samples were taken from the hallway and bathroom. Asked by Advocate Depute Ashley Edwards if blood found at the bathroom door could have been caused by an injured person being carried into the room, Ms Sharp said: "Yes, that would be one explanation." Under cross examination by Donald Findlay QC, representing Jackson, she also accepted there could be "thousands" of reasons. Miss Sharp said that some of the blood found in the flat had been diluted or smeared as if the area had been washed or cleaned. Jackson, 40, and co-accused Michelle Higgins 29, deny murdering and dismembering Miss MacKenzie. They face further allegations that they disposed of Miss MacKenzie's body parts in bins and cleaned the flat and bath with bleach and caustic soda. The court has heard the 37-year-old died at the flat in October, last year. Forensic scientist Barry Mitchell said traces of DNA matching Jackson were found on the handle of the suitcase which held Miss MacKenzie's severed head and thighs. Traces of Miss MacKenzie's blood were also found on one of Jackson's shoes. Mr Mitchell said the chances of the blood being anyone else's were one in more than a billion. The court heard more of Miss MacKenzie's blood was found on Higgins' mobile phone, underneath its outer casing. DNA and blood matching Miss MacKenzie were also found on a claw hammer found in Jackson's living room. The jury was also told Jackson had texted Miss MacKenzie on October 17 — 10 days before she died. He wrote: "I'm with Mishy now and it would be easier if you stop coming. Please. I really want to make a go of it with her." Miss MacKenzie replied: "Yeah, no probs. I'm sorry I've made things difficult 4 u. What happens when you get gear again. Will still sell me? x" Dr Robert Cumming, who examined Higgins while she was in police custody, told the court she had the initials SJ "carved" on her leg. The trial before Lady Rae continues.


Race is on to find stem cell donor for Ava

October 18 2016

A Fife toddler is desperately seeking a stem cell donor to give her the gift of life this Christmas. Little Ava Stark, 3, was due to have a life saving transplant next week but the donor had to pull out at the last minute because of medical reasons. With just one in 25 million potential donors worldwide showing up as a perfect match, the race is now on to save the Lochgelly tot. Ava's mum Marie, 33, urged as many people as possible to register as a stem cell donor with the Anthony Nolan organisation. She said: "I'm begging anybody to come forward. All it takes is one person, whether it is you, your partner, or your next door neighbour." Ava has a rare blood disorder which will be fatal if she does not receive a stem cell transplant. Marie explained that donating stem cells was no more difficult than donating blood. And she added that even if there is no match with Ava, there are plenty others waiting for transplants who could benefit. She said: "It's just like giving blood and it can help so many people. "So many families have lost children because there has not been enough awareness out there." Anyone in good health aged between 16 and 30 can sign up for the register at the Anthony Nolan website. Marie had to explain to Ava, who had been calling the mystery donor "my hero", why her hospital visit had been cancelled. "I had to tell her she didn't have a hero any more," she said. "Ava needs a transplant to save her life and Christmas is fast approaching. "So I want to ask anyone who hasn't been tested yet to give Ava the gift of life. "I can't lose my little girl. She means everything to my family. "And it's such a simple test to find out if you're able to donate." Ava was diagnosed with inherited bone marrow failure in April. The condition prevents her body from producing blood cells and she relies on weekly transplants of blood and platelets, cells which help the blood to clot. Her survival will depend on a stem cell transplant, which will enable her body to produce new blood cells.

Perth & Kinross

Jenny Methven murder accused blames her son for death

August 8 2012

The man accused of murdering tragic Perthshire pensioner Jenny Methven claimed her son was responsible for her death despite his defence counsel admitting William Kean's DNA ''signature'' was all over the crime scene. The court was also shown a grisly video of the murder scene on the first day of Kean's trial at the High Court in Glasgow. Kean (46) denies murdering 80-year-old Mrs Methven at her home at Kildenny Farm Cottage in Forteviot in Perthshire on February 20 and has lodged a special defence of incrimination against Mrs Methven's son David Methven, or ''another or others unknown to whom David Methven was connected''. Kean, who appeared at the High Court in Glasgow wearing a dark blue suit yesterday, denies murdering Mrs Methven by repeatedly striking her head and body with a blunt instrument. He also denies cutting his own fingertips and palms to prevent police obtaining usable print samples to avoid detection, arrest and prosecution. Kean has also been charged with stealing £15,000 from Mrs Methven's Perthshire cottage on September 14 last year and of attempting to defeat the ends of justice between February 20 and March 28 this year by allegedly pouring bleach or a similar liquid on bloodstained trousers and cutting a pocket from them and concealing the trousers and pocket material in the eaves of a garage in Blairgowrie. He also denies these charges. He pled not guilty before a jury of nine women and six men on the first day of his trial yesterday. A joint minute of facts agreed by the defence and prosecution was read to the jury before the first witness was called. It stated that on February 20 Kean had touched the lower right arm of Mrs Methven. It has also been agreed that Kean was the owner of a pair of blue corduroy trousers that, when examined, were found to have quantity of Mrs Methven's blood on them. The minute also stated that a telephone taken from the kitchen of Mrs Methven's cottage had a bloody fingerprint of Kean's left forefinger on it. Additionally, it has been agreed that a glass found in a plastic tub next to the sink in the kitchen had been handled by Mr Kean on February 20, that he was the sole owner of a mobile phone whose number was read to the court and that on February 20 he has the sole use of a silver Peugeot 205 car whose registration number was read out to the court. The court later heard that Mrs Methven may have been struck repeatedly on the head while sitting on a chair in her kitchen before being shown a video of Mrs Methven's body lying on the floor of her blood-splattered kitchen. Near her body were two towels and on the back of a chair a fluorescent vest, all of which were saturated with blood. Scottish Police Service Authority forensic scientist Yvonne McLaren told prosecutor Alex Prentice QC that the splatter patterns and smear of blood found on the wall suggested Mrs Methven had been struck while sitting on a chair in her kitchen. ''The sizes, shapes and direction of the stains would indicate an area close to the wall and by the side - that's where the source of blood would have come from the create that splatter,'' said the witness. ''The blood and the impact of the smearing indicating a moving contact with wet blood.'' The video showed Mrs Methven wearing a jumper and trousers but only one shoe. Miss McLaren said spots of blood on her sock had fallen from above, indicating she would have been in a sitting position when they fell. The advocate depute asked Miss McLaren if the cut in the pocket of Kean's trousers referred to in the joint minute could have been made to conceal the handle of a blunt object like a hammer. Miss McLaren agreed that this was a possible reason for making the cut. She also said bleach had been poured on the trousers and it was impossible to say from which side Mrs Methven's blood had got onto them. She agreed that it was possible the blood had come from an object covered in wet blood that had been put into the pocket. The witness also said the blood splatter may have been minimised because a towel was wrapped round the 80-year-old's head when she was being attacked. Under cross-examination from defence counsel Brian McConnachie QC, Miss McLaren admitted that it was possible for the perpetrator of a crime to limit the DNA they may leave behind or other evidence such as fingerprints by wearing gloves or taking other precautionary measures. He then asked: ''If William Kean is the perpetrator he has left behind his fingerprint on a telephone, his DNA on a glass and his DNA on Mrs Methven's arm?'' Miss McLaren replied: ''Yes.'' He continued: ''One of the things that has been suggested to you is that the removal of part of the trouser pocket is to secrete a hammer,'' and she replied: ''Yes. It is a possibility.'' She also agreed when Mr McConnachie stated: ''The person who has gone to that trouble then effectively left their signature in the cottage.'' Mr McConnachie added: ''The premeditated plan seems to have run out at the point of wearing gloves,'' to which Miss McLaren again agreed. The defence QC said that pathologists said that Mrs Methven was struck 11 times and asked Miss McLaren if this would mean the perpetrator was covered with blood. She said experiments had shown that there is often less blood splatter than would be expected. Miss McLaren also told Mr McConnachie said that three blunt instruments - a miniature baseball bat, what she described as a ''hockey stick handle'' and a wooden pole, were found in two cars belonging to David Methven. However, she said there was no evidence to suggest these had any connection to Mrs Methven's death. Under re-examination Miss McLaren said that blood will only splatter if a blow is struck in an area where a previous strike had already broken the skin and caused bleeding. The trial before Lord Glennie continues.


Hunt for transplant donor for Fife boy with rare blood disorder

March 25 2017

An urgent appeal has been launched for a stem cell donor for a 10-year-old Fife boy with a life-threatening blood disorder. Jay Dalrymple developed aplastic anaemia after suffering from stomach aches and jaundice in November last year due to a hepatitis infection. The Kirkcaldy youngster’s family have urged people to sign up to the Anthony Nolan register in the hope that they could be a match. Their plea comes just months after four-year-old Ava Stark, of Lochgelly, received a bone marrow transplant following a high-profile hunt for a match. Jay has to go to hospital twice a week for blood and platelet transfusions. Unless he receives a transplant within 12 months he will need to go on to medication which carries the risk of him developing leukaemia. His older sister Kerrie Stark has launched a social media campaign to spread the word about Jay’s appeal. She said: “Jay’s just a 10-year-old boy, he was perfectly health until November and now, all of a sudden, he can’t do normal things like going to school or playing outside. “If anybody was willing to sign up it would mean everything, it could save his life. “It would mean everything to get him back.” Jay’s mother Lynn McDuff thought he had a simple cold when his school rang one day last autumn to tell her he was feeling unwell. But family life was turned upside down when they discovered it was something much more serious, an extremely rare disorder in which the body does not produce enough red blood cells. Star Wars fan Jay spent Christmas in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh before he was diagnosed and has been unable to attend school since, as his low red blood count means he has little energy. None of Jay’s three sisters and brother is a suitable donor and Jay’s best chance of a cure is a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. Jay’s family are raising funds for Anthony Nolan by holding an event at Kinglassie Miners Welfare Institute on May 13. Funds are also being raised to help the family during his treatment and for a holiday when he recovers by Kinglassie woman Catherine Sala-Murray, whose Facebook page is Kats Mission. Plea for donors Amy Bartlett of the Anthony Nolan register said signing as a potential donor is straight-forward. She said: “Joining the register couldn’t be easier. “Just fill in your details on the Anthony Nolan website and we will send you a spit kit through the post to collect a saliva sample. “If you’re lucky enough to be a match for someone, 90% of people will donate in a straightforward outpatient procedure similar to giving blood.”   The Anthony Nolan website is at www.anthonynolan.org.

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk