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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...


“Whenever I’ve heard the expression ‘pure evil’ over the last 25 years I’ve thought about Alastair Thompson”

December 30 2017

It was the “Taggart-style” murder that provoked revulsion in Dundee 25 years ago. The gruesome killing came to light on December 30, 1992, following the grisly discovery of a severed arm by a policeman’s daughter as she walked a police dog on the Law. Further searches revealed a cut-up torso and part of an arm wrapped in plastic bags. A second batch of human remains was later found dumped in Dudhope Park and included a severed foot in a ladies’ stocking. A police appeal produced around 90 responses, including one from James Dunbar, who was concerned his half-brother, Gordon Dunbar, had not arrived for a planned Christmas meal. The landlord of the guesthouse in Victoria Road where the former Dundee Corporation architect had been staying said he had not been home for about a week and it transpired the last confirmed sighting of Mr Dunbar had been on Christmas Eve. Then, a tip-off from a Perth informant led the police to Alastair Thompson and among his possessions was the key to a ninth-floor flat at Butterburn Court. Mr Dunbar had gone out on Christmas Eve before being robbed by Thompson and stabbed through the heart in the Butterburn Court multi. Inside, they discovered plastic bags and tape of the type used to wrap the body parts and a bloodstained hacksaw. Mr Dunbar’s blood and tissue were found in the bathroom. It also emerged that Thompson had given Mr Dunbar’s gold chain to a girlfriend as a present. Mr Dunbar’s head was never recovered and an old operation scar, DNA and fingerprints were used to prove his identity. Gordon’s brother, Jim, of Carnoustie, said he still hasn’t come to terms with the events that happened in Butterburn Court. “When I cross the Tay Road Bridge and see the profile of Dundee and the Law, I can’t help but think of my brother,” he said. “Once it is out of view, it goes to the back of my mind — but it doesn’t go away. Andrew Murray Scott, author of Modern Dundee: Life in the City Since World War Two, said: “It was a truly repugnant incident and will go down as one of Dundee’s – and indeed Scotland’s – most despicable crimes. “With body parts cut up and dumped at locations throughout the city and a headless corpse it played out like a real-life episode of Taggart.” During the trial at the High Court in Edinburgh Thompson protested his innocence in the killing and robbery, claiming he had merely disposed of the body parts for the two Glasgow “heavies” he said had carried out the murder. But he was sentenced to life in prison, with judge Lord Weir telling him he would serve a minimum of 20 years for his “nauseating and barbaric” crimes. Edinburgh-born, Thompson had been known to the police from the age of 16. In 1968 he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his grandmother and was released on licence in 1984. He subsequently lived in Perth, Dundee and England, returning to Dundee just months before the killing. The double murderer was discovered “cold and stiff” in his bed by prison officers in Perth Prison in 2010. An autopsy was later carried out by Tayside Police, with Thompson’s medical notes recording a previous history of lung disease, related to his smoking, coeliac disease and hypothyroidism. The examination established the cause of his death as atherosclerotic coronary artery disease and also discovered evidence of a previous heart attack. Thompson had written to Mr Dunbar’s family before he died offering to tell them where he had hidden the body parts. He also expressed his regret over the horrific killing from behind bars and offered to give his victim’s sibling a full account of the events which took place on Christmas Eve. Mr Dunbar’s head was never recovered and Butterburn Court has since been demolished.   Opinion - Andrew Argo, former Dundee Courier Chief Reporter It was a dreadful crime that 25 years ago shocked Dundee out of its festive season celebrations. The discovery of body parts under bushes on Dundee Law by a woman out walking her father’s police dog on December 30, 1992 was one of the most horrific murders city has ever seen. Its unspeakably gruesome nature made it one of the most memorable stories I covered in my 40-odd year career as a news journalist – memorable obviously for all the wrong reasons. How could anyone be so depraved as to carry out such a nightmarish act, and just how much had the victim suffered before he died? The crime revealed the grim underside of human existence that most of us choose not to think about and very few people encounter. The victim Gordon Dunbar had been an educated man, an architect by profession, whose life had taken a wrong turn. His home had become a lodging house in Victoria Road from where his absence over Christmas in 1992 had at first aroused only curiosity. After his own family reported their concern at his empty seat on Christmas Day, police were able to identify the victim and launch a full-scale murder investigation. Alastair Thompson had been known to the police as a “lifer” who had killed his own grandmother but had been released back into the community after serving 16 years. In 1992 he was in Dundee under the auspices of a prisoner resettlement scheme. After a tip-off, police searched his possessions and found a key to a ninth-floor flat in the city’s former Derby Street multis overlooking Dundee Law. Inside they found damning evidence linking Thompson to Gordon Dunbar’s slaying including plastic bags used to wrap the victim’s body parts. Police had their man. We thought the motive involved homosexuality. Dunbar was gay and Thompson was thought to be bisexual, and the harrowing details were characteristic of homosexual-linked murders. Had Thompson lured Dunbar to the Butterburn Court flat under the pretence of a sexual liaison before he launched his vicious attack? We’ll never know for sure, but what I will certainly never forget is Thompson’s chilling stare in court directed at anyone who looked at him after the guilty verdict was returned – his evil eyes. No one had ever stared at me with such piercing menace before, and needless to say, I’ve never encountered anything remotely like it since. Such was the impact of that awful episode that whenever I’ve heard the expression “pure evil” over the last 25 years I’ve thought about Alastair Thompson.   The letter from his prison cell - Thompson's dying confession offer Thompson’s letter to Mr Dunbar’s family from his prison cell was described as “intimidating and menacing”. He said he was deeply sorry for what happened and for all the pain and anguish. “The purpose of this letter Mr Dunbar is to offer you as full an explanation as is possible of the events of Christmas 1992. “I would have written long before now, but it was my lawyer’s advice that I not do so until after my appeals were finished. “The explanation I offer is in no way an attempt to excuse myself. “I shall die in prison Mr Dunbar, justified or not, and as such there is little anyone can do to harm me. “I have nothing to gain and nothing to lose Mr Dunbar. “I offer you only what you are entitled to know and only I can or will tell you. “There were and are questions that needed answers and I would seek to answer them. “However, Mr Dunbar before I can tell you the full story of the events of Christmas 1992 I must know that they will go no further.” Mr Dunbar’s family did not respond and took legal action to stop any more correspondence from Thompson.

UK & World

Fisherman rescued after being thrown into sea

July 2 2013

A 55-year-old fisherman has been rescued from the wreckage of his boat by lifeboat crew. The man was thrown into the sea from his 25ft boat four miles South-East of Torness Power Station while making a Mayday call. Dunbar’s RNLI all-weather lifeboat and an RAF helicopter from RAF Boulmer in Northumberland were scrambled to the scene. Gary Fairbairn, Dunbar lifeboat coxswain, said: “We were on scene in under half an hour, when we got there the bow of the boat was sticking upright out of the water.” The fisherman was checked over by paramedics at Torness but declined hospital treatment.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


DUSA TV wraps up Skint: The Final Episode

February 21 2011

Scotland's first student soap opera is about to air its final episode. Skint, whose cast has included Brian Cox, was created by students at Dundee University and has been watched by thousands on YouTube. Skint was the brainchild of Jordan Dunbar and Paul McCallum. Jordan said, "We have been working on the last episode for a few months and we're really happy with the final cut." "Everyone involved in DUSA TV is hugely excited for the premiere, given that industry professionals will also be in attendance," he added. The final episode will be seen first by students, staff and guests at the students' association on Tuesday. Jordan said, "We're so grateful for all the favours, contributions and time people have given DUSA TV and Skint over the last year. We really hope that students will come out in droves to support student media at its best. "The premiere is just the icing on the cake for us -- it will be a great opportunity for the team to let their hair down after months of balancing studying with seven-hour shoots." Natalie Coupar, DUSA vice-president, said, "We've had fantastic support from the city. The Scarlet Bakery will be providing us with cupcakes for the event, STV have allowed us to film in their studios and both Wave 102 FM and Tay FM recorded jingles to be used in Skint: The Final Episode."


Sheriff decides against jail for paedophile described as ‘likely’ to reoffend without treatment

December 7 2015

A paedophile who preyed on two young girls in Dundee has been spared a prison sentence despite being "prepared for jail". Gibson Dunbar was convicted of the historical sexual abuse of two girls, who both were under ten at the time, in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. A social worker’s report said Dunbar was "likely" to reoffend unless he took full steps to tackle his sexual deviancy. However, a sheriff at Dundee today spared him a jail term. Sheriff Alistair Carmichael told Dunbar: “I have got to take a number of things into consideration and right at the top is the impact this had on the victims. “These are serious charges; they are not, however, penetrative charges. “This behaviour happened 26 to 19 years ago. Since then you have been in trouble three times. None of those were sexual matters.” One of Dunbar's victims previously waived her right to anonymity and described him as a "rat that needed put away". Dunbar, 49, of Newcastle, was found guilty after a three-day trial of two charges of using lewd and libidinous practices towards the youngsters at addresses in Dundee. Fiscal depute Vicki Bell had previously told the court: “One of the girls called him ‘creepy Gibby’ - a nickname like this does not come from nowhere.” Dunbar’s defence agent said Dunbar had been forced to move to his mother’s address in Newcastle after suffering a "degree of hostility" from his neighbours following his conviction. He said: “Mr Dunbar has been deeply affected by this conviction.He comes to court extremely apprehensive as he knows he may face a custodial sentence. “He has made the necessary arrangements to go to jail.” However, Sheriff Carmichael sentenced Dunbar to a community payback order which prevents Dunbar from being in contact with any girl under the age of 17. He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, undergo supervision for three years, during which he will also be subject to the notification requirements of the sex offenders register and also to take part in the Tay Project, which works with sex offenders.

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.

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


Consistent Dunbar excels no matter what partner

November 24 2016

It doesn’t matter how often they change his centre partner, Alex Dunbar remains the lynchpin of the Scotland midfield in attack and especially defence. The powerful man from Annan struck up a fruitful partnership in the Six Nations with Duncan Taylor but with the Saracens man recovering from injury and missing out, he worked in a new partner in Huw Jones during this month’s Autumn Test Series. Jones scored two tries and an assist over those two tests but it seems Dunbar may have another new partner for the final test against Georgia at Kilmarmnock’s Rugby Park on Saturday with the Stormers centre suffering a foot injury in setting up Sean Maitland for Scotland’s try on Saturday. However if it’s clubmate Peter Horne, another Glasgow Warrior in Mark Bennett recalled or a wildcard choice from Vern Cotter, nothing much is going to change in Dunbar’s mind, accustomed as he is to rotation of the centres under Gregor Townsend for his club. “You're here in the first place because you're a good rugby player,” he said. “There are little bits that people prefer to do and some go into a game slightly different. “Communication is the most important thing. If you're always talking then you know where each other is going to be, so you speak to the guys and work it out.” Jones has been an easy fit for Scotland and Dunbar because he likes his partner to know exactly what he’s thinking at all times. “"I've not played with Huw before a couple of weeks ago, but he's got good feet, pace and hands,” said Dunbar. “Best of all he's constantly talking and helps organise stuff when people are getting tired." When fit, Dunbar has been Cotter’s first choice in the midfield and the efforts they made to get him back after ACL surgery before the World Cup showed just what esteem the coach holds him in. And he should find the artificial pitch at Rugby Park this weekend much to his liking, having bedded in with the surface at Scotstoun over the last few months. “The thing you have to watch is game management,” he said. “We found when Glasgow  played down at Cardiff, we got a bit loose because it’s so good to run and step on it a bit quicker, you can get a bit carried away. “But Scotstoun is finally bedded in and playing well now. There main little differences are for the back three, because the ball bounces slightly differently, it comes off it quicker and higher. “But for us guys in the middle and for the forwards it's not much different.” Georgia arrive in Scotland with a big point to prove about their eligibility for the Six Nations, after a strong World Cup where they were highly competitive. “They play very direct rugby and have some dangerous runners, but if we’re on top of our game, start well, we can put them under a bit of pressure,” he added. “We've got very dangerous backs and a very good back three so it's up to us get the ball out wide to these guys and create some chances."

Angus & The Mearns

Exhibition inspired by passing seasons in Carnoustie to open

October 18 2013

Scottish artist Jim Dunbar will open an exhibition at the Meffan in Forfar this weekend. Towards Easthaven features more than 50 paintings, inspired by the environment around his home in Carnoustie through the seasons. Mr Dunbar’s paintings, in either oil or watercolour, are representational and often allegorical. His subject matter is wide-ranging, covering figures, portraits, still-life, landscapes and seascapes. The exhibition opens to the public on Saturday and runs until Saturday November 16, admission is free. There will be a talk and gallery tour on Wednesday at 2pm, when Mr Dunbar will discuss his influences and working practices. He said: “Throughout my painting career, I have concentrated on places, objects and people that have a strong connection to me in some way; family or close friends, collected objects and places where I have lived. “The insight gained by having known my subject matter over time is important to me because of the spiritual element it brings to my work.”