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Perth & Kinross

Perthshire woman Joanna Findlay freed from US prison

February 26 2013

A Scots woman convicted in the US for the attempted murder of her husband has been released from prison and returned to her home in Perthshire. Joanna Findlay has been deported to the UK and is back in Blairgowrie afterhandgun charges against her were dropped. The 42-year-old was found guilty of the second degree attempted murder of Gary Trogdon, who was found dead of a gunshot wound on October 30 2010 at the couple’s home in Hollywood, Maryland. Jurors also found her guilty of a handgun violation and Circuit Judge Karen Abrams imposed the minimum sentence of five years without parole for use of a handgun in commission of a felony or violent crime. She received an additional five years suspended sentence for the second degree attempted murder. Ms Findlay was jailed on February 28 last year, but has now been freed from Jessup Women’s Prison after State’s Attorney Richard Fritz reopened the handgun charge and dismissed it. He said: “It is in the interest of the people of the state of Maryland to have her leave and have this case finally put to rest.” He revealed that Mr Trogdon’s family opposed the agreement, but said the charge could be dismissed at his discretion. Judge Abrams advised Ms Findlay that this was not a declaration of her innocence and described it as “an unfortunate case”. “The forces have combined appropriately to get you where you need to go,” she said. Ms Findlay’s mother, Frieda, confirmed that her daughter, a former Dundee College and Aberdeen University student, had returned to Perthshire, but did not reveal where she was staying. “She is back home,” she said. Mrs Findlay, who is caring for her gravely ill husband Thomas, also said the family wished to be left alone to get on with their lives after the traumatic events of the last few years. MP Pete Wishart said: “I am very pleased for the Findlay family that we have a resolution to this case and that Joanna is now back home in Blairgowrie. The past year has been a living nightmare for the Findlay family and the uncertainty over her future has been very difficult to deal with. “I have been making repeatedrepresentations on behalf of the Findlayfamily for the past year, working closely with the Foreign Office on this case. “It would seem that the prosecuting authorities in Maryland suddenly decided to deport Joanna on condition that she drops the appeal on her conviction.” The case first hit the headlines in 2010 when Ms Findlay, who was a lecturer at the University of Maryland, was charged with the second-degree murder of her husband. She maintained her innocence throughout and, during pretrial proceedings, claimed that Mr Trogdon had committed suicide after she discovered indecent child images on his computer.

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...

Politics

Labour MSP Neil Findlay withdraws First Minister ‘liar’ jibe

February 12 2016

A Labour MSP has withdrawn a “liar” jibe he directed at the First Minister amid a heated Holyrood exchange. Neil Findlay’s outburst was made during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday as Nicola Sturgeon answered a question from Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale on council cuts. He later told Parliament he would swap the word he was alleged to have said and replace it with the phrase “perpetrating a con-trick”, which Ms Sturgeon used earlier in reference to Labour tax plans. Mr Findlay said: “I withdraw the term attributed to me that the Parliament finds unparliamentary and would instead substitute it with the term used by the First Minister today.” Tricia Marwick, the presiding officer, said his use of the word “liar” was clearly “unparliamentary” language. Responding to Mr Findlay’s retraction, she told him he had been a member of this Parliament for five years and should have known it was not acceptable. She added: “I note what you have said and I will consider the matter further.” Ms Sturgeon said the insults fired across the chamber show how “desperate” Labour are. It is not the first time Mr Findlay, a former contender for the Scottish Labour leadership, has got into hot water with the presiding officer. The MSP is often chided by Ms Marwick for getting to his feet out of turn in the chamber.

Perth & Kinross

Joanna Findlay parents say Trogdon brother has no credibility to demand retrial

January 30 2012

The family of a Perthshire lecturer convicted in the USA of trying to shoot her husband have dismissed calls for their daughter to be retried for murder after it emerged that the man making the fresh complaint is a convicted sex offender. Speaking publicly for the first time about their heartache, Joanna Findlay's parents described their daughter as a ''good, loving, caring person'' who now has ''the odds stacked against her'' as she awaits sentence in America. The 41-year-old, of Blairgowrie, is due to be sentenced at the end of February after being found guilty by a jury of attempted second degree murder and using a handgun in the commission of a felony. She faces around five years behind bars after Gary Trogdon died at the couple's Maryland home on October 30 2010. Speaking to The Courier, Joanna's parents, Frieda and Tom Findlay said they are managing to keep in regular contact with their daughter. However, they are finding it ''extremely difficult'' to cope with circumstances they say are having a detrimental impact on their health. ''Joanna is probably looking at a statutory sentence of five years' imprisonment, just for trying to defend herself,'' Frieda (61) said. ''Joanna had been married to Gary for 15 years but there was a confrontation after she discovered he had child porn on his computer, and later the authorities discovered more than 3,000 indecent images of children on there. ''Many of these images were of the worst kind, of missing American children being abused and some dated back to 1998. Joanna didn't have a clue about these images and neither did we. ''Two and a half months later there was a confrontation between Joanna and Gary about the images. On the police tape played in court, he (Gary) tells the police that he had weapons in both hands. She tried to fend him off and Joanna admitted firing the pistol into the deck.'' Mrs Findlay added: ''In the third 911 call played in court, he told the police he had all the guns. Joanna ran out of the house and heard shots. It transpired he had committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. It's a whole different legal system over there and Joanna faces jail just for discharging a gun inside the house whilst trying to defend herself.'' Mr and Mrs Findlay had been upset to read last week that Gary Trogdon's brother, Greg (51), of Missouri, USA, was calling for Joanna to be retried for first degree murder. Greg Trogdon told The Courier he was filing for a ''wrongful death'' civil suit through the American courts and made various allegations about her personal life. He said: ''I want her to be tried and convicted of murdering my brother ... All I read in the Scottish media is about how sweet and innocent she is. The sweet girl who was bullied by my brother and who'll never get the chance to have children ... I'm willing to sell my vehicles and my home to see the truth come out.'' But it has emerged that Greg Trogdon is a convicted sex offender who was jailed for five years in 2003 and placed on a further four-year supervision order after pleading guilty to receiving child pornography. He also has a prior conviction for first-degree sexual misconduct against a girl under the age of 12. The convictions have sickened Mr and Mrs Findlay and they believe it shatters Greg Trogdon's credibility when he expresses opinions about their daughter. Mrs Findlay continued: ''We have no evidence to suggest that Gary and Greg Trogdon were swapping paedophilic images but it's become clear more recently that (Joanna's husband) Gary didn't want people to know that Greg was his brother after the conviction in 2003. "Gary was a former US Air Force lieutenant colonel who had top security clearance to work in military research at Fort McNair in the US. He might have lost this if the truth about his brother came out. But we now wonder if he was really worried about was his own interests in paedophilia being discovered.'' Mr and Mrs Findlay have been comforted by the support of family and friends at home in and around Perthshire. People who knew Joanna locally, as well as people who knew her as a student at Dundee College and Aberdeen University, have sent character references to help with her legal fight. She has also received considerable financial and emotional support from friends in the US. Freida added: ''A horrible picture has been painted of our daughter. But we just feel she's fallen victim to circumstance and feel the odds are stacked against her.'' Contacted by The Courier, Greg Trogdon declined the to talk about his past. But he insisted he will continue his pursuit of a wrongful death civil suit against Joanna Findlay. He accused the Findlay family of telling ''lies'' about the relationship between his late brother and their daughter. He added: ''This is not about money it's about justice.''

Perth & Kinross

Parents fly to US to join murder suspect Joanna Findlay

November 19 2010

The parents of Blairgowrie murder accused Joanna Findlay have flown to the US to be with their daughter as she seeks bail. Joanna Findlay (40) was arrested on suspicion of shooting dead her husband, Gary Trogdon (55), at their home in Hollywood, St Mary's County, Maryland, earlier this month. The university professor was denied bail at an initial hearing, at which she appeared without legal representation, and has been in police custody for a fortnight. No date has yet been set for her second bail hearing and she is being held in a facility close to her home. Her scrap metal dealer father Thomas and mother Frieda, from Rattray, arrived in the US earlier in the week. It is believed they brought another family member who is a solicitor in a bid to ease them through the American legal system. It is unclear whether they have been given access to their daughter yet. They have refused to speak publicly about her ordeal. A source close to the family said, "Joanna's parents were in Tenerife on holiday when they heard what had happened." "They have had an awful time because their flight home was delayed and then they had to get together the money to get to America." "Now they are there, it's not clear exactly what they can do but they felt they had to be there to support Joanna. "The American justice system seems to be all about paying money up front and the lawyers want paid before they will do anything and the money for any bail has to be found as well. But her father is prepared to stay as long as possible for her." The family has stated they believe Joanna is innocent, insisting Mr Trogdon committed suicide following an argument. The family alleges the couple got involved in a dispute after child pornography was found on Mr Trogdon's home computer. They say he called police to allege he was being assaulted before turning a gun on himself. St Mary's County Sheriff's Office has refused to comment further on the matter. A former Dundee College student and Aberdeen University graduate, Joanna Findlay left Scotland in the mid-90s on a student exchange to Nebraska-Lincoln University, where she met Mr Trogdon. They were married 13 years ago.

News

Lorraine Kelly moved to tears by Dunblane memories

March 1 2013

TV host Lorraine Kelly broke down in tears during an interview as she recalled the young victims of the Dunblane school shootings. Kelly, who reported on the 1996 tragedy, told Piers Morgan she was invited by the parents of five-year-old victim Joanna Ross to see her lying in a coffin in her bedroom. “We talked and talked for ages and then Pam and Kenny said: ‘Do you want to see her?’ And Joanna was upstairs,” she said on the Life Stories show. “When I saw her she was just lying there. She just looked asleep. But she was on her bed in a little white coffin with her wee nightie on. Anybody that thinks it’s a good idea to allow anyone access to weapons that can do that should have been in that room and should have seen that little girl.” The ITV Daybreak presenter, whose daughter Rosie was a toddler at the time of the mass shooting, also described seeing Joanna’s handprints. “Joanna had obviously rushed to the window and her handprints were still on the window. Obviously, you’re never going to wipe those away. It just brought it home to you so vividly what they’d lost,” she said. Joanna’s mother, Pam Ross, decided she would like to meet Kelly after seeing her on television. “There was just something personal. You could see she really cared,” Ms Ross said. “We connected and became friends.”

Dundee

‘It was horrible’: Broughty Ferry woman describes moment she came face to face with break-in thief

April 12 2018

A Broughty Ferry woman has revealed the “horrible” moment she came face to face with a thief who had broken into her home in the dead of night. Deborah Findlay, 53, was with her daughter when she came across the brazen criminal in the kitchen of her Strathspey Place home shortly after 1am on Tuesday. The man asked Ms Findlay how she was doing before making off with around £400 in cash and a purse. Ms Findlay said: “When I saw him he turned around and said ‘how you doing?’ “I screamed and ran out of the front door and into the garden. “I was shouting for someone to phone the police. “It was horrible – he was right in the kitchen. My daughter was upstairs and I shouted on her to phone the police.” CCTV of the incident shows the man making several attempts to enter the property. On one occasion he is seen hiding just metres from Ms Findlay while she stands near her front door. Another piece of footage shows the man crawling towards the front door before being spooked and moving over back towards the road. The man, who has been described as around 6ft and was wearing a scarf over his face, was also recorded approaching the door, being disturbed and then running way. Further shots show him making two separate attempts to enter Ms Findlay’s vehicle, wiping his fingerprints on the first and then wearing a pair of gloves for the second. Ms Findlay said: “He has actually been in this house twice – and tried on two other occasions.” She said she hoped that sharing her story would help remind people to remain vigilant and keep an eye out for the thief. Appealing for witnesses to come forward to assist their inquiries, a spokesman for Police Scotland said there had been break-ins at Strathspey Place and Arbroath Road on Tuesday.

Dundee

Police seeking thief who stole handbag from Lochee church

October 9 2013

Police in Dundee are hunting a thief who stole a woman’s handbag while she attended mass in a Lochee church. Catherine Findlay, 75, from the Dryburgh area, was at St Mary’s Church last Saturday when a thief took her bag from the seat. The theft was the second to hit the church in recent weeks and the third since Christmas. “He took my whole handbag,” Mrs Findlay said. “It was sitting on the seat beside me.” Mrs Findlay thinks the man managed to pull the bag through from the seat in front and hide it under his coat. “It was all very blatant,” she said. “We think they have an idea who did it.” Mrs Findlay was very fortunate as a fellow member of the congregation pursued the thief. “I got everything back,” she said. “There was a young man in the church who chased after him and managed to get my bag back. I was very lucky. The thief didn’t get anything. “The last woman it happened to had her money taken but the cards were left there.” The previous theft occurred shortly before Mrs Findlay’s bag was taken, while a bag snatcher targeted the same church just after Christmas. Father Aldo Angelosanto, priest at St Mary’s, said he had an idea who the perpetrators were. “I’m disappointed in many ways,” he said. “I suspect that some of those who come to our door and receive food parcels are those committing theft. I do feel there are some people at rock bottom. I know that social services are stretched and the political will is tough love, but I think the love part is stretched.” However, Father Aldo stressed the three thefts were not an “epidemic”. “The police have been informed and they have been very helpful,” he said. “I’ve been telling the women not to leave their bags unguarded on the seats.” Lochee councillor Tom Ferguson said the thefts in church showed how desperate some people were. “This is terrible,” he said. “I spoke to Aldo after the Christmas one. There’s absolutely nothing sacred now. This is symptomatic of the times. “It shows the depths that people will go to. There’s other ways for people to feed themselves, though they may be feeding other habits.” A spokeswoman for the police said: “Police Scotland Tayside Division officers are following a positive line of inquiry in connection with the theft from St Mary’s Church.”

Perth & Kinross

Joanna Findlay’s hopes of Maryland retrial dashed

May 28 2012

A Perthshire woman serving a five-year sentence in the US has had her hopes of a retrial dashed. Joanna Findlay (41) was sentenced to imprisonment by a judge in Maryland in February. She was convicted of attempting to kill her husband, former US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gary Trogdon, at their home in the American state after discovering child sex abuse images on his computer. Findlay has always maintained her innocence and told her trial that her husband had turned his gun on himself after she confronted him. A jury cleared her of an original charge of murder after concluding that he did kill himself, but convicted her on a charge of second-degree attempted murder and a handgun charge. The latter offence carried a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. She was given a suspended sentence for the attempted murder. The Scot has since been held at Jessup Women's Prison, where she hoped that an appeal against her conviction would find favour. Her parents, Thomas and Frieda Findlay from Blairgowrie, have regularly travelled to America to support their daughter and they have always believed her innocent of any wrongdoing.No retrialThe family had pinned their hopes on an appeal and retrial but, in what will be new heartache for the family, a St Mary's Circuit judge has now denied that request. It means Findlay could face seeing out her sentence in the US, unable to be reunited with her loved ones on the other side of the Atlantic. Lawyers representing Findlay had argued that their client might have been acquitted of the charges facing her had the trial's prosecutor not ''unfairly'' told jurors that her sworn testimony could not be believed as she was an atheist. Judge Karen Abrams decided that jurors had not been swayed by the remark, to which she had sustained an objection during the trial. In a written opinion she noted: ''The verdict indicates that the jury did find the defendant's testimony credible, for it evidently believed her testimony that she did not kill her husband. ''As a result, it cannot be concluded that the defendant was prejudiced by the state's attorney's comments, or that they resulted in an improper verdict.''Alleged imagesJoanna Findlay moved from Blairgowrie to the US 15 years ago on a student exchange programme and married Gary Trogdon four years later. Findlay, a former Dundee College and Aberdeen University student, worked at Maryland University as a lecturer. During her trial the St Mary's Court heard that the couple had started fighting after Findlay confronted Trogdon about more than 3,000 allegedly indecent images of children she found on his computer. Sheriff's deputies were called to the couple's Hollywood home on October 30, 2010, following an incident. The case soon centred on two guns found in the home and pornography discovered during the subsequent investigation. Testimony from the medical examiner said an autopsy had determined that Trogdon had been killed by a .38-calibre handgun while Findlay had fired a .22 pistol on the evening. Findlay's trial attorney had argued that her outrage on discovering the child pornography had ledTrogdon to commit suicide.

Perth & Kinross

Release hope for murder suspect Joanna Findlay

November 17 2010

A Blairgowrie woman suspected of murdering her husband in the United States could be released from custody, American police have revealed. Joanna Findlay (40) was arrested after the death of Gary Trogdon (55) at their home in Hollywood, Maryland, last last month. Mr Trogdon called police, claiming his wife had shot him, and officers discovered him dead inside when they arrived at the house. Findlay is being kept in custody after being refused bail because she was deemed a flight risk. However, St Mary's County Sheriff's Office have confirmed Findlay's lawyer has launched a bid to free her from detention until her trial is held. Public information officer Cindy Allen said, "No date has been set for the hearing and she is currently incarcerated, but she could potentially be released." A source close to Findlay's family, many of whom live in Blairgowrie, previously said they believe she is innocent. In a phone call to her parents, Findlay apparently claimed Mr Trogdon had shot himself after she threatened to go to police when she discovered child porn on his computer. However, Ms Allen was unable to confirm if police were investigating that. "We had enough evidence to charge her with second-degree murder," she said. "As far as what has transpired with new evidence, I wouldn't be in a position to comment." Court papers state that Findlay and Mr Trogdon who met in America 15 years ago became involved in a domestic dispute. They say Findlay told emergency services he had been assaulted, but in follow-up calls Mr Trogdon claimed his wife had shot him, and his last conversation with police was "abruptly disconnected." Findlay initially contacted her grandmother Rose, in Blairgowrie, and told her she was in trouble and to call her parents for help. The call came shortly after Rose's birthday, with presents sent by her granddaughter arriving from America the next day. It is understood Findlay regularly kept in contact with her family in Scotland and was planning to visit again next spring. A former Dundee College student and Aberdeen University graduate, she left Scotland on a student exchange to Nebraska-Lincoln University, where she met Mr Trogdon.

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