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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...

Fife

Report into police handling of St Andrews murder case ‘remains under consideration’

June 6 2017

An independent probe into the police’s initial response prior to the brutal murder of a St Andrews woman could yet bring about further action from the Crown Office, The Courier understands. Charles Gordon, 52, was found guilty of murdering his sister Elizabeth Bowe, 50, at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday. The crime took place at her flat in Bobby Jones Place on September 17 last year. But the Crown Office has confirmed that a report into the police’s handling of events before Gordon’s vicious assault still “remains under consideration” after the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) completed its investigation into the case earlier this year. Evidence heard during the trial revealed that Ms Bowe had telephoned 999 just before 8pm on the night she was ultimately strangled to death, to complain that Gordon had stolen her mobile phone, or had taken it and would not return it. At 9.24pm, less than an hour and a half later, Gordon himself then called 999 and told the call handler he thought he had killed his sister – prompting suggestions that greater police intervention that night might have prevented Ms Bowe’s tragic death. A Crown Office spokesman confirmed that PIRC’s report into the police’s handling had been received, and refused to rule out further measures in the wake of Ms Bowe’s death. “We received a report from the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) concerning their investigation into the death of a 50-year-old woman on 20 September 2016 in relation to an incident at a property in St Andrews on 17 September,” the spokesman noted. “The report remains under consideration.” During a recording of the earlier call played to the jury during Gordon’s trial, Ms Bowe was heard to say that she was in a “domestic violence situation” and had told the call handler it was an emergency because she was a “vulnerable adult”. That call, made at 7.59pm on September 17, was graded two, with grade one calls given top priority, and was logged as a theft. After Gordon’s call at 9.24pm, police were first on the scene to find Ms Bowe lying on the floor unresponsive, naked from the waist down, with a dressing gown around her neck and her bra undone. Officers carried out CPR before she was taken to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. A torn plastic bag, stained with Ms Bowe’s blood, also used by Gordon in the attack, was found nearby. Ms Bowe showed no signs of life but paramedics managed to elicit a heartbeat and pulse and she was taken to hospital, although she died three days later. Gordon, who will be sentenced on July 19, was convicted by majority verdict of murdering his sister by placing both hands around her neck and compressing it, placing a dressing gown round her neck and a bag over her head. Detective Chief Inspector Rory Hamilton, who led the investigation, described the murder as a “horrific attack” on his younger sister. "This incident left the community deeply shocked and while detectives conducted a thorough investigation and made a quick arrest, local officers provided reassurance, assistance and support to Elizabeth's neighbours and the general public within St Andrews,” he said. "I would like to thank all of those who assisted Police Scotland with our inquiries, including Elizabeth's family and friends, whom I hope can now begin to move on with their lives following this conviction."

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

UK & World

Bondage murderer admits Breaking Bad TV show inspired attempt to dispose of body in acid

November 14 2016

A Breaking Bad fan who strangled a police officer during a bondage sex session and tried to dispose of the body in an acid bath has been convicted of murder. Stefano Brizzi, 50, admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old Pc Gordon Semple by dissolving his flesh. Following an Old Bailey trial, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after the jury had deliberated for more than 30 hours. Brizzi, who gave no reaction as the jury delivered its verdict, will be sentenced on Friday, December 9. The court heard how the defendant met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a "hot dirty sleazy session" at his flat near London's Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Pc Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing as part of a sex game slipped. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. In the days after the killing, crystal meth addict Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body and stripping the flesh. Meanwhile, Pc Semple's long-term partner Gary Meeks raised the alarm and reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, in Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi's flat and eventually called police who came across the grisly sight of "globules" of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Pc Semple's head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Brizzi, who was wearing pink underpants and sunglasses, was arrested as officers realised the enormity of what they had found. The court heard there was evidence in the kitchen that Brizzi had chopped up the Inverness-born officer with a variety of utensils and may have even used chopsticks to eat morsels of cooked meat. Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of a policeman because "Satan told me to". During the killing, he said he had turned away a man on his doorstep who had arrived for a sex party organised on Grindr. Brizzi said: "I was right in the middle of strangling Gordon and I said to him 'Look, this is not the right time now, people are falling ill and it's a mess'." The Italian also told police that he had "chucked" some of Pc Semple's body into the Thames and thrown away his police badge and belongings. A human foot was later found by a member of Thames Mudlark Club near Bermondsey Wall. The court heard that Brizzi was addicted to crystal meth, which had cost him his job at financial giant Morgan Stanley. He had gone to Crystal Meth Anonymous meetings, but upset people by wearing a Breaking Bad T-shirt as the show "glorified" the drug. He told the group he believed in the Devil and liked satanic rituals and he bragged of his bondage sex encounters. In his home, police found a mask and dog leash with Pc Semple's DNA on it as well as a copy of the Satanic Bible. Giving evidence, Brizzi, who has HIV, told jurors of the difficulties of being a gay man brought up in a religious Italian family. The youngest of three siblings, his Tuscan father was a civil servant and his uncle was a Catholic priest. He told jurors that Pc Semple died in a "state of erotic bliss". his lawyer, Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC, insisted he was no "monster" and could not have eaten Pc Semple's flesh as it was covered in chemicals. Throughout his evidence, Brizzi wept and cried out "I'm sorry" as he was confronted with what he had done. He had earlier admitted a charge of obstructing a coroner by disposing of the body. Pc Semple's brain and other internal organs have never been found.

UK & World

‘Breaking Bad-style’ murderer of police officer Gordon Semple jailed for life

December 12 2016

Stefano Brizzi, 50, has been jailed for life for strangling a police officer during a bondage sex session and then attempting to cook and eat parts of his body. Brizzi admitted he was inspired by his favourite TV series Breaking Bad as he tried to get away with killing 59-year-old PC Gordon Semple by also dissolving his flesh in an acid bath. Last month, the former Morgan Stanley IT developer was found guilty of murder by a majority of 10 to two after a jury at the Old Bailey had deliberated for more than 30 hours. The estate where Semple’s remains were found (Jonathan Brady/PA) Semple was a “caring and gentle person” and “much loved” by his family, who were left devastated with the news of his murder, the court heard. The trial had heard that Brizzi met his victim on gay dating app Grindr and arranged a “hot, dirty, sleazy session” at his flat near London’s Tate Modern gallery on April 1. According to Brizzi, Semple died when a dog leash he had been wearing slipped as they played a “strangulation game”. But a pathologist concluded that while strangulation was a possible cause of death, it would have taken minutes rather than moments, as the defendant had claimed. Stefano Brizzi has been jailed for life (Metropolitan Police/PA) In the days after the killing, Brizzi was caught on CCTV buying buckets, a perforated metal sheet and cleaning products from a DIY store. He then set about dismembering the body, stripping the flesh, burning some in the oven and mixing some with acid in the bath. Semple’s long-term partner, Gary Meeks, reported him missing when he failed to return to their home in Dartford, Kent. Neighbours complained about the stench coming from Brizzi’s flat and eventually called police, who came across the grisly sight of “globules” of flesh floating in the bath, bags containing bones and a part of Semple’s head, and pools of human fat in the oven. Pc Gordon Semple was strangled (Metropolitan Police/PA) Following his arrest, Brizzi admitted killing and trying to dissolve the body of the policeman because “Satan told me to”. Brizzi denied trying to cannibalise parts of Semple by cooking and then biting into a rib found in his kitchen bin. But at his sentencing, the prosecution said an expert odontologist had since confirmed that even though Brizzi claimed not to remember it, he had in fact tried to eat human flesh. Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC handed crystal meth addict Brizzi life in prison with a minimum of 24 years. Brizzi was also sentenced to seven years for obstructing a coroner, which will run concurrently. CCTV footage showing Brizzi purchasing supplies like buckets after Semple’s death (Metropolitan Police/PA) The judge said there were “terrible features” of the case and that Brizzi’s drug addiction had ruined his life. He told Brizzi: “Regret you express now for Mr Semple’s death has to be seen against what you did over a number of days to his body.” The defendant sat in the dock with his head bowed throughout the hearing.

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.

Fife

Fife man guilty of murdering his sister in St Andrews

June 2 2017

A Fife man has been found guilty of murdering his sister in her own home. Charles Gordon, 52, strangled Elizabeth Bowe within her flat in Bobby Jones Place, St Andrews, on September 17 last year, causing injuries which ultimately resulted in her death three days later. A jury took just over two hours to convict Gordon of murdering Ms Bowe by placing his hands around her neck and compressing her neck, putting a dressing gown around her neck and placing a bag over her head. Gordon appeared to smirk as he was led away by court officers once the majority verdict was passed. During his trial at the High Court in Glasgow, the jury heard how Gordon had himself dialled 999 and told the call handler he thought he had killed his sister. Officers arrived to find Gordon casually smoking a cigarette on a sofa while his half naked sister lay unresponsive on the floor near his feet. A blue dressing gown was around her neck and a torn and stretched carrier bag stained with Ms Bowe’s blood was also on the floor. Gordon even told a police officer who was performing CPR on his sister: “She’s already dead, you might as well give up.” Gordon had admitted grabbing his sister by the neck after a drunken row but said he had not intended to kill her, suggesting that Ms Bowe had provoked him and threatened to attack him with a knife. However, evidence led during the trial convinced the jury Gordon had acted with wicked intent. Forensic pathologist Dr David Sadler, who carried out an autopsy, told the court it was his belief Ms Bowe had died as a result of mechanical asphyxia, most likely due to manual strangulation. He said Ms Bowe’s injuries were consistent with neck compression over a prolonged period. Ms Bowe showed no signs of life when police arrived but paramedics managed to restart her heart and rush her to Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital. However, a CT scan showed that the prolonged lack of oxygen had caused severe brain injury and doctors said it was highly unlikely she would pull through. She passed away on September 20. Gordon had also been charged with sexually assaulting Ms Bowe and threatening detectives, but those two charges were withdrawn by the Crown on Thursday - leaving only the murder allegation. Gordon will be sentenced on July 19. For the full story, see Saturday's Courier also available as a digital edition.

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

From The Archives

How fisher women of North-East charmed press corps

November 30 2016

There was a time when Britain’s opinion formers viewed girls from Scotland’s fishing communities as the epitome of beauty and health. In the late Victorian period, many London journalists spent hours studying the girls go about their work before filing complimentary reports for their newspapers. I wrote once before of how one journalist decamped to Auchmithie to witness the girls with “legs and arms tanned brown and their short skirts above their knees and loose-fitting bodices flattering their muscular physiques”. They certainly seem to have won over Fleet Street, so when The Lancet described fish curing as a dangerous occupation practised by wizened sea hags in 1902, The Daily Telegraph went into war mode. Far from prune like harpies, blasted the Telegraph, these girls are “strong and healthy looking, their bare arms harmonising with their rosy cheeks”. The indignant reporter advised the Lancet writer to visit Montrose, Anstruther or Fraserburgh to see for himself. Such adulation was far from unusual, however. In 1872 a journalist from the London Globe seems to have lingered in Gourdon to watch the local girls. He observed that “the girls, inspite of constant exposure to the air, have delicately fair complexions and a few would madden a painter”. It looks like the journalist may have crossed verbal swords with one of the older local women during his time in the village. He noted the men seem to spend most of their time on their boats which “have the advantage of being short of the clacking, vigorous tongue of the shrewish-minded Scotch fish wife”. Our man from the Globe described Gourdon’s packed harbour as resembling a city as a bluish haze of stove smoke rose from the boats. He finished his article with the following summary of the village: “Gourdon is one of the early stations of the herring shoal on its mighty annual march north. “It is a charming place to live for a week if you can thrive on fish and dispense with civilization. French fishermen stationed off the coast say Gourdon has nine months of winter and three months of hard weather.”

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