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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...

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.


Police drive to tackle rising number of violent crimes in Fife

March 11 2016

Murders in Fife were up last year as the region suffered an increase in violent crime. Four people were murdered in the region between April and December 2015. The figure is twice the average for the past five years. However, Police Scotland said overall crime rates had dropped since 2010. The force is taking steps to tackle crimes of violence, which it said were increasingly happening behind closed doors. At yesterday’s Safer Communities Committee meeting, divisional commander Chief Superintendent Angela McLaren said a board led by Superintendent Dougie Milton would be looking at ways of addressing the issue. Ms McLaren said: “Violent crime, compared to last year, has increased, but last year it was incredibly low. “Obviously it’s an area of high priority for us and we want to look at different ways of addressing some issues.” She added: “It’s really important that communities know that there has been a reduction in crime.” In 2014, there were 251 violent crimes, which was below the five-year average of 282. The figure for the same period in 2015 was 299. Police Scotland said statistics had been affected by a change in the way assaults were recorded. Injuries previously treated as minor are now treated as serious by Police Scotland if the victim is left with a scar. Ms McLaren said the force was seeing a trend towards violent crimes being committed behind closed doors. “The problem we are finding now is private space violence,” she said. “There is a lot of domestic violence and also a lot of problems with people known to each other drinking indoors, and not drinking in pubs. “These aren’t covered by CCTV. These are people in private dwellings drinking and falling out.” Overall, there were 156 fewer crimes in Fife between April and December 2015 compared with the period the year before. Ms McLaren said: “While we don’t sit on our laurels, these results are generally very encouraging. “I am pleased that crime is continuing to fall and this is very much down to a team approach with our communities and partners.”


Environmentalists demand public say on future of Marchbanks Recycling Centre

March 26 2013

An environmental group has called on Dundee City Council to delay the planned closure of a recycling centre so that a full consultation can be carried out. Politicians decided to shut Marchbanks Recycling Centre to save £316,000, leaving the Baldovie and Riverside sites. Council figures obtained by Friends of the Earth Tayside under freedom of information legislation show that 7,118 tonnes of recyclables were processed at Marchbanks between 2007 and 2012, compared to Baldovie’s 6,590 tonnes and Riverside’s 4,385 tonnes. Marchbanks also handled 2,152 tonnes of compostable garden waste and 19,914 tonnes of non-recyclable general waste in the same five-year period. A report by director of environment Ken Laing said an average of 319 cars visit Marchbanks every day. Friends of the Earth Tayside say the closure will “displace” more than 110,000 car visits a year and increase CO2 emissions as a result. Doug McLaren of the group said: “Where will all the cars and the stuff go you might ask? Simple, says Dundee City Council there are two other sites, up to 10 and 15 miles away round trip, where the stuff can be dropped. But hold on: not all of it at the same site; to drop it all you may have to drive over 20 to 25 miles. “There’s a sound approach to governance and taxation which rewards good behaviour and penalises bad, but Dundee is turning that on its head by penalising those who take the trouble to recycle and dispose carefully, while rewarding the ‘dumb dumpers’ and fly-tippers who can chuck valuable materials in the waste bin at home or in a layby, to be collected free of charge or rather from a proportion of the council tax. “The council claims it will make big savings by running fewer of their own lorries but they are asking a gullible general public to pick up the price tag and emit over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 in the process.” Mr McLaren has called on those who use the centre to urge their councillors to delay the closure and carry out a consultation. He said: “There has been no open discussion about the effects of a closure no formal consultation has taken place, no soundly-based environmental assessment carried out.” He added: “They should put the closure plan on hold until all the implications have been looked at and seek a solution which saves money but doesn’t trash the planet.” Dundee City Council environment convener Councillor Craig Melville insisted the environmental group’s CO2 emissions claims are “purely speculative” and fail to take account of operational changes to the council’s other recycling centres “which will considerably reduce the amount of HGV journeys that the council has been making”. He said: “We are cutting the double transport by HGV of bulky and garden waste between sites. So, from April 1, bulky and mixed waste from the public will only be accepted at Baldovie, while people should take all garden waste to Riverside.”


Trial date set for Mary McLaren death accused

January 18 2011

The trial of the man accused of murdering Dundee mother Mary McLaren is to take place this spring. Patrick James Rae (40), a prisoner at Perth, denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10 last year. At a preliminary hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday, Lord Kinclaven ordered Rae to stand trial on May 3. Six weeks have been set aside for the case at the High Court in Edinburgh, and a further preliminary hearing to ensure all parties were ready for trial was ordered for April 6. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee, he assaulted Mrs McLaren, then of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, thereby restricting her breathing and murdering her. The indictment Rae is facing also alleges that between February 25 and March 15 at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that, at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument. Rae is also accused of disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice. Rae's defence is being conducted by Mark Stewart QC, while the prosecution is being led by advocate depute David Young QC.


Mary McLaren murder accused appears at preliminary hearing

April 7 2011

The man accused of raping and murdering Dundee mum Mary McLaren will stand trial early next month. Patrick James Rae (41), a prisoner at Perth, appeared from custody at the high court in Edinburgh at a preliminary hearing. Rae denies murdering and raping Mrs McLaren between February 25 and March 10, 2010. At the hearing defence advocate Mark Stewart QC lodged an updated witness list and a list of productions. Mr Stewart also outlined a number of outstanding issues that he moved could be dealt with on the trial date of Tuesday, May 3. There was no objection from advocate depute David Young QC, who also noted a number of procedural issues still to be resolved on the same date. Lord Tyre, who intimated he would preside over the trial, continued the case to the trial diet, for which six weeks have been set aside. Rae denies that at North Marketgait and elsewhere in Dundee he assaulted Mrs McLaren, of Rowantree Crescent, by seizing hold of her, forcibly removing her clothing, raping her, repeatedly punching her on the head, repeatedly striking her head and body on the ground and against a wall, or otherwise inflicting violence on her, repeatedly striking her on the neck with a knife or similar instrument, placing a piece of fabric or similar over her throat, seizing her by the throat, compressing, restricting her breathing and murdering her. He also denies that between February 25 and March 15, 2010, at North Marketgait, Dundee, Brechin Road in Arbroath and elsewhere unknown, he concealed the body of Mary McLaren under leaf litter and plant foliage at North Marketgait and, at the same location and elsewhere, removed and disposed of a coat, bagging contents belonging to Mary McLaren. It is also alleged that at the same location and elsewhere, he disposed of a knife or similar instrument, disposing of and washing clothes at Brechin Road, Arbroath, and elsewhere, doing so to avoid arrest, detection and prosecution and thus attempted to defeat the ends of justice.


Tagging order for Dundee cyclist who called elderly driver a ‘middle class p***k’

November 19 2015

A Dundee cyclist who launched a tirade against a couple in their 70s, punched their car’s wing mirror and branded the man a "middle class p***k" has been sentenced to a tagging order. Duncan McLaren followed the driver after claiming he had been cut up as he pulled into the approach to the council recycling centre on Riverside Drive. The 37-year-old later told officers his victim, Alexander Ramsay, was a “middle-class p***k” who “shouldn’t be allowed on the road”. McLaren avoided a jail term over the incident, after a sheriff warned him that he had to change his ways. Depute fiscal Trina Sinclair told Dundee Sheriff Court: “The complainers are a couple in their seventies. At around 1pm they were driving to the skip at Riverside. As they turned, the accused was riding a bike with a trailer and they swerved in front of him. They then slowed down to let the bike pass. “Mr Ramsay got out of his car to unload items to the skip and the accused arrived two minutes later. “He approached Mr Ramsay, shouting about his driving and swearing, saying: ‘You shouldn’t be allowed on the road’. “Mr Ramsay walked away and the accused shouted: ‘I am not finished with you yet’. “As Sybil Ramsay, his wife, asked an employee where certain items went, the accused punched the wing mirror and smashed it. He then left.” Miss Sinclair told the court that the couple went to the police, who traced McLaren after reviewing CCTV footage. After being detained, McLaren told officers: “The boy drove like a p***k. That middle-class p***k shouldn’t be on the road. I don’t care what you do, I will keep doing things like that.” McLaren, 37, of Forest Park Place, pleaded guilty to behaving in a threatening and abusive manner by shouting, swearing and threatening Alexander and Sybil Ramsay and punching the wing mirror of a car, smashing it, at Dundee City Council amenities site on Riverside Drive on March 23. Doug McConnell, defending, said: “The only option for the court other than custody is a restriction of liberty order. “Mr McLaren suffers from Huntington’s disease. At the time, it was a very difficult period, as he was a carer for his mother. “He has been of good behaviour and that has changed his attitude.” Sheriff Tom Hughes imposed a restriction of liberty order for four months, meaning McLaren will be electronically tagged and confined to his house from 7pm until 7am every day. He said: “It has to be quite clear to you that I take a very dim view of your conduct. You can’t go on acting like that. “You are very close to being detained in respect of this matter now. “If you carry on acting the way you are going, your next stop is custody you’re going to have to change your ways.”


SEPA ‘failing’ to protect Dighty Burn from pollution

September 19 2011

The environmental agency for Scotland has been accused of "failing" after industrial material was found in water close to Broughty Ferry beach only a year after an investigation into fly-tipping was carried out. Numerous scaffolding planks, polystyrene slabs used for insulation and even a heavy base for site fencing have been found in the Dighty Burn in the last week. Four large safety cushioning bags have also been dumped in the burn just a year since a similar discovery prompted a complaint to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Doug McLaren of Friends of the Earth Tayside said he was angry and frustrated with the developments. He and a team of volunteers returned to the Broughty Ferry coastline over weekend to carry out a beach clean, and he voiced his upset with SEPA for not taking greater action on the back of their investigation. He said: "Although these bags have well known firms' names printed on them, no action has been taken by any of the regulatory authorities to penalise the culprits from whose sites the bags were allowed to escape. "I want to see these companies take greater responsibility and not just blame it on young vandals. "I have been to their site and there is just a flimsy fence which you can pull these bags over. It is not good enough and they need to be held to account." SEPA investigated the issue of illegally-discarded safety cushioning bags in the area. Officers visited building sites to discuss the problem and were told that bags had been stolen. But in the last year, according to Mr McLaren, more than 20 cushioning bags have been found in the burn 10 of which had burst releasing thousands of polystyrene chips. "It really is a disaster," he added. "The firms are totally careless and are not up to the job. "I am frustrated and angry because nothing is getting done. SEPA is failing on its task to protect the environment, albeit they have lots of excuses." SEPA said it expects any company using fall bags to ensure they are securely stored when not in use. Stuart McGowan, unit manager for Angus and Dundee, said: "A SEPA officer walked the Dighty Burn in May to look for signs of any further bags, but did not find evidence of any. "However, anecdotal evidence from a member of the public suggests that young people may have been using bags as canoes in the burn. "However, there are currently no sites in the area using soft landing fall bags, and the fact that the bags are all well past their sell by date suggests they have not been removed from a site recently. "There is a possibility that these bags are part of the original set removed from the site in 2010." He said people should report any fly-tipping. SEPA can be contacted on 0800 80 70 60.

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.


Tayside Recyclers founder suspended during charity regulator probe

July 23 2012

A high-profile Dundee charity figure has been suspended for six months from the organisation he founded. The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has ordered Doug McLaren (65) not to undertake any activities directly or indirectly with Tayside Recyclers while it investigates his role over recent episodes. OSCR said while the inquiries are being made it has determined ''it is in the public interest to take precautionary action to safeguard the charity, its assets and its reputation''. It has issued a direction notice under the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 against Mr McLaren. He must not enter into any contracts or tender for any work for or on behalf of the charity. He also must not sign any documents for or on behalf of the charity or attend any charity trustee meetings. Furthermore, he must not carry out any work for or on behalf of the charity or act in its administration in any capacity. He has been told that if he breaches the order he is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of up to £2,500, three months in prison or both. OSCR said it had received information alleging that Mr McLaren acted against the wishes of the board of Tayside Recyclers on two occasions and in breach of his duties as a charity trustee which would be regarded as misconduct. The direction notice does not pre-empt the outcome of the investigation, and OSCR said it aims to gain a full and balanced understanding of the situation to reach the correct conclusion. Mr McLaren has the opportunity to respond to the allegations about his conduct with the charity, referred to by the watchdog body by its official name of the Tayside Foundation for the Conservation of Resources. An OSCR spokesman said: ''We have taken protective action while we conduct our inquiries. We decided that it was in the public interest to publish a report on this case to promote awareness about the situation and the relationship between the charity and Mr McLaren.'' Mr McLaren was dismissed from his post for ''gross misconduct'' after he defied the charity's board and used £20,000 of funds to take out a lease on new premises for Tayside Recyclers in Lochee High Street. He is also accused of acting against the wishes of the charity's board in another matter and of not preparing financial accounts on time. He says he will respond to the allegations and has made a counter complaint to OSCR about his fellow directors' running of Tayside Recyclers. ''The money to buy the lease was my own but I was dismissed for gross misconduct because the board said no,'' he said. ''We negotiated a very advantageous lease but the board would not consider it. ''I put the £20,000 into the company to get us started and I used that money to pay the Lochee shop rent for a year. I bought the lease with my money in good faith for the charity.''