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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...

Angus & The Mearns

Carnoustie man strangled girlfriend during assault

January 8 2016

An Angus man who strangled his girlfriend and broke her arm is facing jail. Connor McGregor from Carnoustie “viciously” attacked Danielle Lawson in Arbroath’s Wardmill Road following a row. The pair left a bar in the town and were walking when the debate turned violent. McGregor chased after Ms Lawson and repeatedly pushed her, causing her to fall. The 21-year-old then pushed Ms Lawson against metal railings on a bridge and grabbed her by the throat. Dundee Sheriff Court was told McGregor then grabbed her by the throat and strangled her until she couldn’t breathe and began to lose consciousness. She was then thrown to the ground and was later found to have a broken arm. At some point during the struggle two men walked past, with the woman shouting out: “If you don’t help me and take me to safety then I’ll be dead.” However, the pair just walked on leaving her in the hands of the violent thug. During the attack, Miss Lawson called another man who heard her screaming and shouting “he’s hitting me”. Following his conviction, the jury was told McGregor had two previous convictions for assaulting and behaving in a threatening and abusive manner towards Ms Lawson. Depute fiscal Eilidh Robertson told the jury: “Why did Danielle Lawson scream at those two men who passed her ‘if you don’t help me and take me to safety then I’ll be dead’? “The answer is plain and simple she had just been viciously assaulted by her partner, Connor McGregor. “Assaulted to the extent that he placed his hand over her throat and made her feel ‘woozy’. “An assault that endangered her life.” McGregor, a prisoner at Perth, denied a charge of assault to severe injury and danger of life. However, a jury found him guilty following a two-day trial. Sheriff Tom Hughes deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and McGregor was remanded in custody.

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 United

Hibs determined to open up six point gap on Dundee United

November 29 2016

Hibs defender Darren McGregor believes racing to a six point lead over Dundee United at the Championship summit would send out a huge signal of intent. Neil Lennon’s side can stretch their advantage at the top with victory in Friday’s top of the table televised showdown at Tannadice. The Leith outfit are back on form following a sticky patch having won four out of their last five undefeated matches, and centre-half McGregor is keen to build on that momentum against United. McGregor said: “It’s definitely a benchmark. The league won’t be won in December but if we get that six point gap then there is a mentality there to maintain it and kick on from there. “But football is so unpredictable to think a six point gap would be enough to kick on. We just need to go into the game and try to win it. “It’s a big one and that’s what you are in football for, the big games. “I think at the start of the season people would probably have pinpointed ourselves and Dundee United as being the ones contesting for the top of the league. “The last time at Easter Road it was one apiece so we have a point to prove and we are confident going into the game.   Hibs will go into the United clash without John McGinn after the influential midfielder was forced to undergo surgery to repair a persistent ankle injury.

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.

Rocktalk

Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.

Librarian who stole rare books to sell online jailed for eight months

January 31 2018

A librarian who stole rare books – including one on the Aberfan disaster – and put them up for sale online has been jailed for eight months.Elizabeth McGregor, 57, was working at Pontypridd Library in Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales, when it was noticed that books were going missing.Her employers suspected that McGregor, of Maes Y Cynon, Hirwaun, was stealing the books and a police investigation discovered that some were being advertised for sale on her Amazon account.Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard McGregor put the Report Of The Tribunal Of Inquiry Into The Aberfan Disaster on the site for £400.The report, into the tragedy that claimed the lives of 116 children and 28 adults in 1966, was later found dumped in a green waste recycling bin outside McGregor’s home.Hundreds of other stolen books were also recovered from the property, including some with fire damage where she had tried to set them alight.McGregor later claimed that she had bought the books from various libraries when they were sold as excess stock.She was convicted of two charges of theft, committed between August 2016 and January 2017, as well as a charge of perverting the course of justice, following a three-day trial.Judge Richard Twomlow, the Honorary Recorder of Merthyr Tydfil, sentenced McGregor to eight months in prison.“The items that you stole were of substantial value,” the judge told McGregor, who has no previous convictions.“They were of historical and cultural value in some cases. There was a high level of inconvenience caused to your employer because they had to instigate an investigation.“There is an element of damage to historical assets.“You were somebody who well knew the way the library system worked and you used your knowledge of it to steal books to sell them on.”During the trial, McGregor claimed she had bought the Aberfan book for “little more than £1” but placed it on sale for £400, the judge said.The book’s importance was shown when it was used to research the disaster for a television programme marking its 50th anniversary, he told McGregor.“The evidence shows you stole it from an area where it was safely kept in the library,” the judge said.“There was evidence about the deliberate and calculating way you went about these thefts.”The monetary value of the books is unknown but Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, described the Aberfan book as a “cultural asset”.Representing McGregor, Katherine Lane said her client was a “lonely individual” with physical and mental health problems.“She lives alone in a home that was given to her when her parents passed away,” Ms Lane said.“She does not have a partner or any significant support system.”Since leaving the library service, McGregor has been working for Public Health Wales, the court heard.“She tells me she is fearful of the prospect of what might be facing her at the end of this hearing,” Ms Lane added.McGregor is in “significant debt”, does not drive and lives in an isolated area, the court heard.Speaking after the case, Richard Killick, senior crown prosecutor for CPS Cymru-Wales, described McGregor’s offending as “very serious”.“By taking these books, she denied the community the opportunity to benefit from these resources,” he said.

Scottish Premiership

Rangers 1 Motherwell 3: McCall’s old side come back to haunt him

May 28 2015

Rangers face being locked out of the Scottish Premiership for another 12 months after Motherwell grabbed a shock 3-1 first-leg lead in their Scottish Premiership play-off final. The Light Blues are desperate to fight their way back to the top division after three years in the lower-league wilderness. But it is Ian Baraclough's team who now look set to preserve their 30-year top-flight run after goals from Stephen McManus and Lionel Ainsworth put daylight between the teams after Rangers defender Darren McGregor had earlier deflected Lee Erwin's shot into his own net. McGregor did pull one back for the hosts late on but they face a huge task if they are to rescue their promotion bid in Sunday's Fir Park return. Baraclough only took over the Lanarkshire outfit last December - a month after current Gers boss Stuart McCall walked away from the Well job with the side second bottom of the table. McCall admitted facing his old side in the relegation decider was a "nightmare scenario" and his side have it all to do to stop his worst fears coming true.

Perth & Kinross

Perth woman stabbed friend and wrapped up injuries with Sellotape

December 23 2015

A woman who left her friend scarred for life by stabbing her repeatedly and then wrapping the injuries in Sellotape was jailed for 18 months. Tracey McGregor, 32, picked up three large kitchen knives to carry out the unprovoked attack on Ann Mills, 46, before telling her: “They’re only superficial. I could have done worse.” Sheriff Lindsay Foulis told McGregor that he considered she posed a danger to the public and ordered her to be placed under supervision for a further nine months after her release. He told her: “This is a concerning case. Without any warning you went to the kitchen and armed yourself with three knives with six to eight inch blades and lunged at her and struck her five times. “I am of the view that you constitute a serious risk of harm to others.” He noted she had previous convictions for violence including one where she hurled a hamster down a flight of stairs. Perth Sheriff Court was told that blood was pumping from a wound in Miss Mills arm and she was also stabbed in the abdomen and leg during the unprovoked attack. McGregor used three knives during the attack and Miss Mills had to run from her home in terror as she feared she was being chased from the house. The court was told that some of the knives were found in McGregor’s bag while another had been left lying on the floor of her living room. She had her victim’s blood on her sleeve. Fiscal depute Gavin Letford said the two friends had arranged to meet for drinks but McGregor called off. Miss Mills former partner’s home was trashed and a sofa there was slashed with a knife on the same day. “Her former partner’s home had been trashed and Miss McGregor was suspected to have been responsible for trashing it. A conversation about it was overheard by the accused. “The complainer sat on the couch with a beer and cigarette. She did not have a lighter so she asked the accused for one,” Mr Letford told the court. “The accused went into the kitchen and returned a few seconds later. As she approached Miss Mills the accused lunged forward and struck her on the chest with a weapon. “She raised her arms to defend herself and the accused began to jab her body with the weapon. Her body was struck several times and she felt blood pumping from a slash wound to her upper arm. “The accused stopped attacking Miss Mills and as she did she was seen to have two knives in one hand and one knife in the other. The blades were six to eight inches in length. “Miss Mills was shocked and never saw the attack coming. The accused went to the kitchen and returned with a towel and a roll of Sellotape. “She proceeded to locate the injuries sustained, particularly to the arm. The accused wrapped several layers of Sellotape round the wound to stop the bleeding.” McGregor told her shocked friend: “F**ks sake, they’re only superficial. I could have done worse.” Miss Mills managed to run out of the house and call 999. Mr Letford said: “She was terrified the accused was chasing after her and she ran straight over to a friend’s home.” The court was told she was bleeding from wounds to her leg, arm and stomach and she was taken to Perth Royal Infirmary where she required a number of stitches. McGregor, 32, Eriskay Place, Perth, admitted permanently disfiguring Ann Mills at her home on 21 September last year by repeatedly stabbing her on the body.

Football

Swanson’s strike provided a sweet end to a sad day

March 9 2011

Dundee United midfielder Danny Swanson has revealed how his superb strike against Aberdeen put a smile on his face on an otherwise sad day. Before gracing Tannadice with a fantastic third goal for the Tangerines in their 3-1 win over the Dons on Monday night, Swanson had attended the funeral of family friend Ian "Mac" McGregor in his native Leith. Swanson grew up in the same neighbourhood as the McGregor family and remains good pals with Ian's son Darren, the St Mirren defender, to whom he dedicated his spectacular scissors kick. "I want to dedicate my goal to Darren McGregor, whose dad has just passed away," said Swanson. "I was at the funeral earlier in the day and it was a sad time for a lot of people. "We were brought up together and they stayed close to our house. Indeed, I used to see Mac every day. "It was a difficult occasion for a lot of people but that was a positive way for me to end the day." Swanson's strike lit up the game and he also picked up the sponsors' champagne as man-of-the-match. However, he wouldn't be surprised were he to be rested for Thursday night's Tannadice clash with Hamilton Accies. "We have a lot of games coming up but there are a lot at home so we should look to win them," he added. "I am quite glad all these games got cancelled because I want to play as often as possible between now and the end of the season. "Mind you, the gaffer (Peter Houston) has said that he might want to change things so I may not start against Hamilton. We'll just wait and see. But I will play as many times as he wants me to. "It was great to hear the fans chanting my name again on Monday and it was a good performance from the whole team. We had been drawing too many matches but hopefully that result is the start of a run of wins." And if Swanson does get the nod to play against Accies, he will be a man in tights once again. "They are here to stay precautions, keeping my legs warm," he said. "I wore them once and came through the game so I am just going to keep wearing them." United fans are reminded that current season ticket holders can take a friend to the game against Hamilton for a fiver.

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