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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...


Lung cancer patient pleads for access to CyberKnife treatment

April 5 2011

A Fife man with advanced lung cancer has been denied funding for pioneering treatment that he believes could save his life. Tarek Ramzi from Methil says that, without the new form of radiotherapy, he could only have between six months and a year to live. An oncology professor told the 56-year-old father-of-two he was a suitable candidate for CyberKnife, a painless and non-invasive treatment for complex tumours that directs pencil beams of radiation at affected areas. Hundreds of people have been successfully treated south of the border, but the method is not available in Scotland and NHS Fife would have to pay £22,000 before Mr Ramzi could be considered. A partially successful operation has reduced the original cost from £44,000 but Fife's health chiefs have continued to refuse to fund the treatment, saying there is not enough evidence to prove it is effective. They deny their position has anything to do with cost. An appeal against the decision by a desperate Mr Ramzi was rejected and he has now enlisted the help of local councillor and health campaigner Andrew Rodger. Mr Ramzi, who lives with wife Senga in Kirkland Walk, was diagnosed three years ago with lung cancer that spread to his brain. Two courses of chemotherapy failed and while radiotherapy contained the tumour in his chest, it did not eradicate it. Last year he discovered he had five tumours in his brain that were treated in Sheffield through a system called Gammaknife, which is similar to CyberKnife but only treats head cancers. "Three weeks after the treatment I went for a scan in Fife which showed all five tumours had disappeared," said Mr Ramzi. "Now I'm fighting for the lung and I've twice been refused, even though I went out of my way to reduce the cost from £44,000 to £22,000. "It would have to be done in England because Scotland doesn't have CyberKnife but I was told I would have to apply for funding in Fife because the NHS in England is bankrupt.Spread"I can't get any more radiation because I've had my limit, but although Cyberknife is a kind of radiation it doesn't damage the organ, just the tumour." He added, "My consultant was all for it and applied for the funding but was refused. There's nothing else I can get. Without treatment the tumour will go berserk and spread all over the place. "If I don't get any treatment, basically I have six months to a year. At the moment, everything is standing still and it's not spreading anywhere but I don't know how long that will last. I get up every morning and it's a blessing." Mr Rodger called on NHS Fife to reconsider, saying, "This gentleman is desperate. NHS Fife have said CyberKnife is not a recommended clinical pathway under UK guidance but I think they're hiding behind that guidance and I don't think they have done their homework on this. "There are six hospitals in England using it and there is evidence that people who have had this treatment have become 100% clear of cancer." A spokeswoman for NHS Fife said, "NHS Fife is unable to comment on the circumstances of individual cases, due to patient confidentiality. "However, we can confirm that correspondence continues with the patient around the original and appeal decisions. "NHS Fife would like to make it clear this is not a cost issue and believes there is a lack of evidence to support the effectiveness of the treatment."

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.


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.

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


Dundee mother Cara McIntosh jailed for knife attack on teacher

September 29 2010

A young Dundee mother who pulled a knife on a teacher from France who was walking  to her work in a city school has been jailed for two years. Cara Finlayson McIntosh (21), of Woodside Terrace, a first offender, burst into tears in the dock as Sheriff Tom Hughes passed sentence. McIntosh previously admitted that on February 23, in Clepington Road, she assaulted Astrid Patrigeon, presented a knife at her, repeatedly placed a knife against her body, repeatedly demanded her bag, struggled with her and tried to pull her bag from her with intent to rob her of it. The 27-year-old French teacher was on her way to Baldragon Academy when the attack happened. At around 8am McIntosh approached her and tapped her on the shoulder and presented the knife at her. She demanded the bag and Ms Patrigeon refused to hand it over. She stepped forward and again demanded the bag. McIntosh then seized the strap of the handbag and pulled it. Ms Patrigeon pulled in the other direction, resulting in a struggle. Ms Patrigeon had a plaster cast on her left arm and struck McIntosh twice in the face with it. McIntosh ran off without the handbag. Ms Patrigeon was not injured, but was distressed.Hid in chest of drawersA passing motorist witnessed the incident and followed McIntosh along Clepington Road. She was traced and, when police went to Woodside Terrace to speak to her, she was found to be hiding in a hollowed out chest of drawers. Her partner and sister said McIntosh had gone out that morning with a knife and the specific intention of getting money. McIntosh told police, "I never threatened to stab her. "I just pulled a knife out. I'm sorry." Solicitor Ian Flynn said his client was a first offender with a young child, adding, "This was carried out solely through drug addiction. "Although terrifying for the victim, I would ask His Lordship to take this as a one-off offence." Sheriff Hughes said, "This must have been a terrifying experience for the unfortunate lady in this case." He said he could not deal with the matter in any other way than a custodial sentence and jailed McIntosh for two years, reduced from three for her early plea. The victim is understood to have left the city and is now teaching at a school in the Aberdeen area.


Tarek Ramzi loses brave battle against cancer

September 1 2011

A Fife man who fought to receive potentially lifesaving cancer treatment has lost his battle against his illness. Tarek Ramzi from Methil died last Monday without ever starting the pioneering CyberKnife treatment to remove tumours from his lung. His wife Senga has paid tribute to her "brave, brave husband", who had twice beaten cancer before being diagnosed for a third time. She said Tarek had fought for treatment for himself as well as for every other cancer patient in Scotland, and had retained his humour to the end. Mr Ramzi was initially denied funding from NHS Fife for the £22,000 CyberKnife treatment which is only available south of the border. In April, the 56-year-old told The Courier he feared that without the non-invasive treatment which directs pencil beams of radiation at affected areas, he would have between six months and a year to live. Local people began fundraising to help him pay for private therapy and he enlisted the help of local councillor and health campaigner Andrew Rodger in a bid to persuade health bosses to change their minds. He and Senga fought a relentless campaign and researched the benefits of CyberKnife themselves, which allowed them to press their case. His despair finally turned to joy in June when following various meetings with the health board, he was told his funding had been approved and he said he had been thrown a lifeline. Sadly, the news came too late and he was unable to receive the treatment he had fought so hard for. "He was a very, very brave person and his fight to get treatment made him strong", said Senga. "He never lay down to it and never gave up so it was quite a shock when we had to phone an ambulance for him." Mr Ramzi died in hospital with Senga and daughters Tina and Tamara by his side. His step-son John Boy and sons-in-law Mark and Naveed were also with him. "He wasn't in pain and he never suffered", said Senga. "He went very peacefully. "He was always thanking everybody for what they had done and he was amazed people could be so nice." Mr Rodger said he was saddened to hear of Mr Ramzi's death, and described him as a humble and decent man. "He deserved to get that treatment months ago, and that's the sad thing," he said. "He had a will to live and wanted to get on with his life. His death is a very sad loss to the community and his family."


Revealed: the drugs and weapons being posted on to Scotland’s streets

August 3 2015

Stun guns, pistols, swords, “death stars” and a shotgun are just some of the deadly weapons criminals are trying to smuggle by post on to Scotland’s streets. The National Crime agency has released details to The Courier outlining the contraband intercepted from organised gangs looking to import misery into the country. More than 300 consignments of drugs mainly from China and India and upwards of 150 weapons shipments from the USA and Germany which were destined for our towns and cities have been seized since last October. It is thought that these numbers are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to illegal imports heading for people’s letterboxes. John McGowan, senior investigating officer for the NCA in Scotland, said: “It’s a high-risk tactic to choose. The NCA works very closely with its partners in Border Force to intercept illegal consignments. “Where we have actionable intelligence, the NCA or Police Scotland will follow it.” Prescription drugs like diazepam, herbal cannabis, and new psychoactive substances also known as “legal highs” are among the mind-altering materials seized but police also stopped cocaine, crack cocaine, MDMA and ecstasy from potentially ruining lives. One single package recovered 7,200 steroid tablets, while another contained three kilograms of herbal cannabis which holds a potential street value of £10,000. Most bizarrely, one interception saw 360 grams of cannabis chocolate seized. The weapons hauls also include a revolver, a semi-automatic rifle, “realistic imitation firearms”, gun parts, pepper and CS spray, nun chucks and 500 rounds of rifle ammunition. The agency also prevented flick knives, butterfly knives and an automatic stiletto knife from making their way into potentially dangerous hands. Mr McGowan, who is based at the Scottish Crime Campus, Gartcosh, said some items discovered by crime busters, most commonly in a postal sorting office in Coventry, are later found to be legally imported. Others are not illegal in their countries of origin but a number are ordered for import from the most hard-to-find corners of the internet, the secretive so-called “dark web”. Mr McGowan added: “The NCA is running a campaign this summer to remind people not to bring back stun guns from overseas, where they may have been able to buy them easily and so assumed they are legal here. “Other weapons would need to be ordered via dark web marketplaces, and the NCA’s cyber crime unit works actively with international partners to disrupt and close down those forums.”


Dundee man seen with butcher’s knife gets prison term

January 2 2014

A Dundee man has been jailed for three and a half years, after admitting his fourth offence of carrying a knife. Frank Needham, 31, a prisoner at Perth, admitted that on October 24, at Nethergate, he possessed a knife. Depute fiscal Laura Bruce told the court the accused was observed on four city centre CCTV cameras, sitting on a bench with another person. “He was seen to remove a knife from a bag, was seen with the knife in his right hand which he then concealed in his left hand sleeve. He was then seen to enter a bus and spoke with the driver before leaving the bus. When police went to speak with him, he made off and during the pursuit he was seen to throw the knife to the ground.” Ms Bruce said an officer picked up the knife, described as a five-and-a-half-inch, bladed butcher’s knife. Solicitor Mike Short asked Sheriff Davidson to consider getting reports to see why the accused carried knives. However, the sheriff said there was no alternative to the maximum custodial sentence of four years, with a discount of six months for his early plea. He ordered forfeiture of the knife.