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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...


Woman who lied about father’s death to defraud NHS then attended court with kitchen knife

October 4 2013

A woman who invented her father’s death to get time off work took a large kitchen knife to court after being convicted of that fraud, a court has heard. Fiona Gillen, 46, of High Street, Alyth, admitted at Dundee Sheriff Court that on February 18, at the court in Courthouse Square, she possessed a kitchen knife, while on bail. Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court Gillen had attended at the court for sentence on the previous matter, her backpack was searched by security officer Alastair Smith and she was found to be carrying a black-handled kitchen knife. The security officer alerted a nearby police officer, Constable Gordon Hay, who searched her bag and found the knife, which was on its own in the main section. Keys and a purse were found in the front pocket and Gillen voluntarily stated that she had forgotten about the knife being in the bag. She was arrested and charged and her response was that she had been moving cutlery around the previous day. Ms Robertson told the court that at an interview at police HQ Gillen told officers she had been given kitchen utensils by a friend, including three or four kitchen knives. “She said she moved them but had left the knife behind in the backpack. She was kept in custody overnight and released on bail the following day.” Solicitor David Duncan pointed out that Gillen is on a community payback order, which is almost completed, and said the sheriff was duty bound to call for a social work report. Sheriff McGowan allowed Gillen’s bail order to continue and granted the Crown motion to forfeit the knife. Gillen previously admitted conning her NHS bosses into paying her for weeks while she was off work with fictitious “bereavement reaction”. She was placed on a community payback order with 150 hours unpaid work when she appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court. Gillen lied to her supervisor at the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre at Dundee’s Kings Cross Hospital that her dad had died and even presented medical certificates from her doctor who diagnosed “bereavement reaction” to support her story. She pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining money by fraud from NHS Tayside between March 9 2011 and April 22 2011. Dundee Sheriff Court heard she asked Scottish Bowel Screening Centre supervisor Linda Brownlee for paid leave to attend the funeral. Admin worker Gillen then told her boss she was suffering from stress as a result of bereavement and obtained a doctor’s certificate. Gillen kept up the pretence for more than a month before her ploy was discovered in April 2011. A source said: “Eventually red flags were raised and an investigation was launched. There was no record of a Patrick Gillen dying in the Ipswich area, as she had claimed. “An investigator managed to track him down and he said he hadn’t seen Fiona for over 18 months before this all happened.” Gillen now works as a housekeeper. Sheriff McGowan deferred sentence on Gillen on the new matter until November 1.


Dundee man ripped wife’s pyjamas in Christmas Day knife attack

October 22 2014

A drunken man ripped his wife’s pyjamas when he lashed out at her with a knife after a heavy drinking session on December 25, Dundee Sheriff Court heard. George Albert McPhee, 49, of Fleming Gardens East, had sentence deferred for reports by Sheriff Elizabeth Munro after admitting assaulting her at their former marital home in the city. Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the court the couple had been drinking together and had taken sleeping tablets and gone to bed to watch TV and continue drinking. She said: “The accused was upset about not seeing his grandchildren over the festive period and the complainer tried to calm him down. “However, he lashed out with a cutlery knife, ripping her pyjamas in the process, before falling back asleep again.” His wife called the police, Ms Robertson said, and when they arrived they saw her in her pyjamas while the accused was lying sleeping in bed, the knife still in his hand. Solicitor Doug McConnell said they had obtained a report that indicated he did not have psychiatric problems and said his problems were more alcohol related. Sheriff Elizabeth Munro deferred sentence for reports and a restriction of liberty assessment until November 18 and granted him bail.


Haul of weapons seized from pupils in Fife’s schools

April 6 2011

Hammers, knives and ball-bearing guns are among the potentially deadly weapons seized from pupils in Fife over the last three years, an exclusive Courier probe has discovered. Figures obtained using freedom of information legislation show primary school children are among those to have been excluded after being caught with an alarming array of dangerous implements. Police have been involved on several occasions, and some pupils have either been charged or reported to the children's panel. Statistics obtained by The Courier reveal that blades have been discovered 15 times during the past three academic years. Included in the haul of items confiscated were penknives, craft knives, kitchen knives, a cutlery knife and a sgian dubh. Meanwhile, pupils at both Buckhaven High and Glenrothes High were excluded after they were found to be wielding "BB" guns at school, and a pupil at St Andrew's High was "interviewed" by the head teacher after he was found to be in possession of a hammer. Some of the more serious incidents required police intervention and officers were twice called to Glenwood High in Glenrothes after pupils were caught with knives. A pupil at Strathkinness Primary was excluded after he was found with a cutlery knife. Former head teacher Lindsay Roy, now MP for Glenrothes and Central Fife, said last night, "One incident is too many."Zero tolerance"A zero tolerance approach has to be taken where weapons in schools are concerned," he told The Courier. "There must be a high profile message to both pupils and parents that offensive weapons must not be taken to school. "One incident is one too many and sanctions against offenders must be tough." Mr Roy said the consequences of taking weapons to school could be devastating even if no harm is actually planned. "It is utterly irresponsible to bring any weapon in to a school environment," he warned. "Even if no harm is intended, accidents can always happen especially where things like knives are involved." Councillor Douglas Chapman is the convener of Fife Council's education and children's services committee. While reassured that the total numbers are not high, he said efforts were being made in a bid to minimise the potential for harm to pupils throughout Fife. "These numbers are not huge," he said. "However, each case is treated very seriously and that is evident from the very direct sanctions taken by the head teacher in each case and through the involvement of the parents of the perpetrator. "Most parents want to know that when their child or young person leaves the house in the morning, they will come back safe and without having been subjected to threats or bullying during the school day," Mr Chapman added. "For the vast, vast majority of children attending Fife schools that is the case day in, day out. "While schools cannot be expected to anticipate a child bringing a implement to school on any one specific day, Fife schools have worked very hard at introducing strategies to protect children when these isolated incidents occur-and to prevent such behaviour in the first place." Bryan Kirkcaldy, head of education (north) with Fife Council, said all incidents were taken "very seriously" however, he was also at pains to point out that the use of weapons in schools is far from an everyday occurrence. "The presence of a weapon in a Fife school is a rare event," Mr Kirkcaldy said. "However, our schools take any incident of this nature very seriously."

UK & World

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.


Referee’s red card among bizarre haul allegedly stolen in Tayside

November 29 2016

A man faces being given the red card by a sheriff after being accused of stealing a referee’s whistle and cards. James Donaldson is alleged to have taken a bizarre haul, including a bin lid, a vacuum cleaner and a bike pump, from three properties across Tayside. A tub of grease and a spanner are also said to have been swiped. Among the more valuable items Donaldson is said to have stolen is a laptop, a hard drive and a mobile phone. It is alleged that between August 21 and September 10 last year at a property in Glamis Road, Dundee, he stole items including a hoover, furniture, keys, garden tools, cutlery and a coat. The 51-year-old is further accused of taking items including hockey bags containing hockey sticks, a clock, sunglasses in leather cases, a hip flask, lock knife, a pen knife, lighters, a games console, pens, a mobile phone, a bike pump, a pocket watch, a laser pointer and a whistle and referee cards from a property in Dundee’s Windsor Street between December 23 last year and January 3 this year. At the same time and place he is further accused of taking a key, hockey masks, a tool box containing quantity of tools, a tub of grease, pedals, spanner, a bottle of degreaser, a bottle of spray, a pair of glasses, alcohol, cufflinks, cologne, a belt, scarf, knife, two vaporisers and a leather soap bag containing an assortment of shaving items. A third charge alleges that he broke into a cottage at Bridge of Cally, Perthshire on January 3 and stole a TV, bin lid, a throw and a crowbar. He it further charged with using a crowbar to break into the Bridge of Cally address with intent to steal on January 3. The case against Donaldson, of Quarry Road, Muirhead, was continued to trial in December.

Angus & The Mearns

September trial date for pair accused of murder of Montrose mum Kimberley MacKenzie

March 4 2016

The trial of two people charged with the murder of a Montrose mum will be held in September. Steven Jackson, 40, and Michelle Higgins, 28, are accused of killing Kimberley MacKenzie at a flat in the Angus town last October. Prosecutors allege the 37-year-old was struck with a hammer, machete and knife or similar items. It is claimed Ms MacKenzie’s body was dismembered using a saw, knives and a screwdriver or similar instruments. Parts of the corpse are said to have been wrapped in bin liners and bags and hidden in bins at a number of addresses in Montrose. It is further alleged her head and other body parts were put inside a rucksack and case and concealed in a shower cubicle. Walls, floors and other surfaces of the flat are said to have been cleaned. Caustic soda and bleach are also alleged to have been poured into a bath and clothes and footwear disposed of. The charge claims this was all done “with intent to avoid detection, arrest and prosecution”. As well as the murder charge, Jackson and Higgins face an allegation of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. Jackson is further charged with two separate drugs accusations as well as having a machete in a public place. Higgins faces a similar allegation of having a knife. The pair appeared for a short hearing at the High Court in Glasgow today. Jackson’s QC Donald Findlay and Higgins’ lawyer Mark Stewart QC each pled not guilty on their behalf. Judge Lady Scott set a trial due to take place in September in Edinburgh.

UK & World

Knife and weapons cases hit highest level for seven years

March 8 2018

The criminal justice system is dealing with more offenders caught with knives or offensive weapons than at any time since the start of the decade, new figures show.Last year, 13,081 offences of possession of an article with a blade or point resulted in a conviction or caution in England and Wales.In addition there were 6,899 cases where the offender was found with an offensive weapon, and 1,002 where a knife or weapon was used to make threats against others.The combined total of 20,982 offences is the highest number for a calendar year since 2010, when there were 21,328.Last year’s tally was up by 9% on 2016, with the Ministry of Justice saying the increase in part reflects a 30% rise in police-recorded knife and offensive weapon possession offences in the year to September.The data also show offenders were aged under 18 in 4,490 cases – a fifth of the total number handled.Conviction of a knife or offensive weapon offence is now more likely to result in some form of custodial sentence, according to the MoJ report.The average custodial sentence length has risen by 2.2 months in the last decade to 7.5 months in 2017.More than four fifths (86%) of adult repeat offenders received a custodial sentence of some form last year, the statistics also showed.The findings come amid concern about a surge in knife violence, particularly in London where there have been a number of fatal stabbings.Justice minister Rory Stewart said knife crime is a “terrible threat”.He added: “I am delighted we are prosecuting more people and sending them to jail.“Be in no doubt, if you are caught carrying a knife, you will face a jail sentence.”


Robert Stratton murder trial: Accused claims woman ran on to knife blade

September 20 2017

A man accused of a double Dundee murder said one of those he killed “ran” on to a knife he was carrying. Robert Stratton told the High Court in Edinburgh how he took the blade from his kitchen into the street on February 26 but did not intend to hurt anyone. The court was told David Sorrie, 32, came at Stratton with a bottle during an early morning confrontation in the city’s Drumlanrig Drive as a vigil being held for missing teenager Ralph Smith erupted in violence. Stratton said Mr Sorrie then came into contact with one of two knives he was carrying. He told the jury he was not “too sure” about the circumstances surrounding Mr Sorrie’s stabbing. Stratton said he and his partner, Lee Kinney, had been at a friend’s house and were asked to leave. His partner got into an argument and Stratton said a group of people started assaulting her in the street. Stratton said they managed to get into their house but he thought a group of individuals were trying to follow them. He took two knives from his kitchen and held them close to his body and left his house in a bid to get the people to move away. He felt if they had gained access, “They would have beaten both of us up probably.” The court heard that Julie McCash and Mr Sorrie sustained stab wounds from which they later died. Stratton said Ms McCash was part of the group of individuals. He said the people ran towards him and that Julie had come into contact with the knife Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked Stratton: “Julie McCash impaled herself on your knife?” Stratton said: “Yes.” Mr Prentice replied: “That’s absurd, Mr Stratton. You went out looking for revenge”, to which Stratton said: “I didn’t go out looking for revenge.” After claiming David Sorrie came towards him with a bottle, he admitted Mr Sorrie was “hit” with a knife that he had been carrying. He told Mr Prentice: “I didn’t go out to hurt anyone. I didn’t go out looking for revenge.” Stratton turned from his position in the dock to face the public benches and said: “I didn’t want to hurt anybody.” Members of the public sitting in court replied with curses and left the room when they heard Mr Stratton’s evidence. Lord Beckett issued a warning to people watching the trial. He said: “If you are not able to maintain silence appropriate in this court then the court police officer and other officers will arrest you.” Prosecutors claim that on February 26 2017 at Drumlanrig Drive, Dundee, Stratton assaulted Julie McCash and struck her on the body with a knife and that he “did murder her”. A second charge alleges that on the same date and at the same location, he murdered David Sorrie by striking him on the body with a knife. He has pleaded not guilty and has lodged special defences of self defence and incrimination. Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC had earlier withdrawn charges that alleged he assaulted his partner and another woman called Wendy McKinney. He also withdrew a charge that alleged Mr Stratton possessed cocaine.

Angus & The Mearns

Arbroath man kissed gran goodbye before taking bag of knives to ‘exact revenge’

February 21 2014

A knife obsessive “kissed his grandmother goodbye” before he took a bag of blades to “exact revenge” on another man. Conor Munro, from Arbroath, was jailed for more than three years after Forfar Sheriff Court heard he posed a “significant and random danger to the public” due to his self-professed love of carrying knives. Munro, 21, took a bag of nine blades from his grandmother’s kitchen, ranging from four to 10 inches, before turning up at his ex-girlfriend’s door in search of a man in the house. Munro previously admitted an indictment alleging that on October 5 last year, at Sidney Street in Arbroath, he behaved in a threatening manner and attempted to enter the property in possession of a knife and a bag of knives. Sentencing him, visiting Sheriff Valerie Johnston said Munro only avoided the maximum sentence under statute four years in jail due to his early guilty plea. She said: “He took these knives with intent to exact revenge on a young man who he believed disrespected him. “He kissed his grandmother goodbye, told her he loved her, and he knew he was going on a course of action that meant he would go to prison.” Sheriff Johnston said a report compiled by social workers betrayed a dangerous “ideation about knives” possessed by Munro. “It says that when he drinks, he looks to take a knife,” she said. “With a knife, he said, no one thinks they are better than him.” Defence solicitor Lynne Sturrock said: “He is under no illusion that custody is the only option for him. “He apologised to his grandmother and said he wouldn’t be back.” The court previously heard Munro’s 22-year-old ex-girlfriend had asked him to leave when he appeared at her home around 4.30am. However, he returned 30 minutes later and when she opened the door she saw him holding a knife at waist level, and a bag in his other hand. Munro tried to enter the flat to approach a man who was also in the property, asking him: “Do you think you’re a big man now?” The man phoned 999 and Munro then left the flat to go to his father’s house, where police traced him shortly after. Officers found a range of steak knives which the accused had taken from his grandmother’s home, with whom he stayed at the time. Munro has been on remand or licence for four of the last six years. In 2011, he was convicted of assaulting a woman on December 30 2010 with intent to rob at the High Court in Edinburgh.