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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

Military policeman jailed for violent reaction to TV remote row

February 6 2015

An Angus military policeman who assaulted his fiance and threatened her father with a knife in a New Year’s Day “stramash” has been jailed. Darren Church, 34, who works as an armed guard at RM Condor, Arbroath, was sentenced to 160 days in prison after he admitted picking up a knife and challenging Kevin Elliot, assaulting Mr Elliot by pushing him, seizing him by the throat and pinning him against a wall. Church also admitted shouting and swearing at Rebecca Elliot and Dawn Swankie and repeatedly returning after being asked to leave. He also assaulted Ms Elliot by repeatedly seizing her by the arms, pushing her on the body and throwing a ring at her to her injury. The offences all took place at an address at Middleton Park in Brechin on January 1 and 2. Depute fiscal Isma Mukhtar told the court that, after a row over TV channels, Church left but returned and tried to enter the house. After fighting with his fiance Rebecca Elliot and her father’s partner Dawn Swankie, his fiance’s father, Kevin Elliot, intervened. Church pinned him to the wall by the throat before releasing him. “Matters then escalated and there appears to have been a stramash in the hallway,” added Ms Mukhtar. Ms Elliot attempted to break things up and ended up struggling with Church. When her father stepped in and threatened Church, the accused picked up a small knife from the kitchen and told him: “Go on, you know you want to.” Church finally left of his own volition. The following day, Church returned and there was a physical fight between him and Kevin Elliot. Defence solicitor Jennifer Strachan said: “He pled guilty from custody and has very limited recollection of the incident, as he was under the influence of alcohol. “He is in the armed forces and will face sanctions outwith this court over and above any disposal in this case.” Jailing Church, Sheriff Gregor Murray said he was in “very serious trouble”. He added: “You have a highly skilled and highly trained job which involves you guarding people. “You have been trained to behave in a certain way and have fallen down seriously in those high standards expected of you. “Domestic violence, alcohol and knives are a combustible mix. “There’s no credible alternative to a custodial sentence.” The court previously heard Church and Rebecca Elliot had only been engaged for a week before the incident.

Perth & Kinross

Sheriff labels inmate a coward for throwing boiling water on Perth Prison guard

November 25 2015

An inmate has had 27 months added to his prison sentence after throwing boiling water from a kettle at a Perth Prison guard. Anthony Elliot, 23, mixed sugar with the roasting water and threw it at the unsuspecting guard when he tried to deliver his evening meal. At Perth Sheriff Court, Sheriff William Wood labelled Elliot a coward for the way he attacked the guard when he was in such a vulnerable position. Elliot, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence, has more than 20 previous convictions, many of which involve violence, such as attempted murder and mobbing and rioting. Depute Fiscal Gavin Letford told the court that the prison guard had attended at Elliot’s cell with colleagues to deliver his evening meal. On checking that the accused was sitting on his bed as procedure dictated, the guard entered on his own. He then began chatting to the accused about his kit bag which was filled with dirty clothes and lying on the floor. When the guard bent down to pick up the bag, Elliot threw the mixture of boiling water and sugar on the left side of his face and shoulder. The guard suffered superficial burn injuries to his neck and left shoulder. Although he was off work for 11 days as a result of the attack, and suffered scarring shoulder injuries, he was able to continue with his job. Solicitor Emma Todd said that her client was placed in Polmont at the age of 16 and had been in custody ever since. She added that he had been diagnosed with dyssocial/psychopathic personality disorder and the longest time he had spent out of segregation was three months. His earliest parole date is 2028. Elliot, a prisoner at Low Moss prison, admitted carrying out the assault with the kettle’s contents and then throwing the kettle at the guard on March 20. Sheriff Wood said: “This was a cowardly attack on a prison officer doing his job. “He was in a vulnerable position as you knew he would be when you carried out the attack. “This was a crime committed by person with no investment in their future.”

Dundee FC

Partick Thistle 2 Dundee 0: Dark Blues stung by Jags at Firhill

December 28 2016

For the second game in succession, Dundee gave themselves a mountain to climb. However, unlike Friday night’s match against Hearts at Dens, there was to be no dramatic fightback at Firhill. First-half strikes from Callum Booth and Kris Doolan had Partick Thistle well on top and comfortably in control of the game. Dundee rarely threatened throughout and could have no complaints about the result. Dark Blues boss Paul Hartley made two changes from the side that started against Hearts on Friday night with Julen Etxabeguren replacing Kevin Gomis with one of the scorers against the Jambos, Paul McGowan, returning at the expense of Mark O’Hara, who dropped out of the squad altogether. Jags boss Alan Archibald, the longest-serving manager in the Premiership, made one change from the team that beat Ross County the same evening with Adam Barton coming in for Steven Lawless. Neither side could carve out a clear-cut opportunity in the opening stages with both keepers virtual spectators. However, that all changed in the 16th minute as the Jags took the lead. Kosta Gadzhalov looked to have won the ball cleanly from Doolan 20 yards from his goal but referee Alan Muir decided he had committed a foul. Home full-back Booth stepped up to take the free-kick and bent it past the wall and into the net beyond the despairing dive of Dark Blues keeper Scott Bain. The Dundee players were still disputing the award of the free-kick as the teams lined up to restart the game but despite their sense of injustice, the simple fact remained that they were a goal behind. Hartley’s men then had a chance of their own when Thistle conceded a needless free-kick 20 yards from their goal but this time, Tom Hateley hit his free-kick well over. The Jags had an opportunity in the 35th minute when former Dundee United midfielder Chris Erskine played in Christie Elliott down the right but his shot from a tight angle flew straight into Bain’s arms at his near post. Dundee had plenty of possession but were struggling where it mattered in the final third with home keeper Tomas Cerny finally called into action in the 40th minute when he made a comfortable save from a long-range Cammy Kerr shot. Thistle then broke dangerously from inside their own half with Ryan Edwards playing in Erskine but Bain made a vital block as he pulled the trigger. However, the keeper was helpless to prevent the Jags extending their lead in the 44th minute. Dundee were carved open once more with Bain again denying Erskine but Doolan followed up to fire home the rebound to make it 2-0 at the interval. Thistle tails were still up at the start of the second 45 with the dangerous Erskine trying his luck from long-range with the ball flying onto the roof of Bain’s net. The Dark Blues then had a great chance of their own when Kevin Holt had a clear sight at goal but he shot straight at Cerny who easily saved. There was a flashpoint in the 65th minute when Elliott was late on Holt with Mr Muir booking the Thistle player once the dust had settled. Dundee looked increasingly desperate as the Jags really started to enjoy themselves. However, the home side had a big scare in the 77th minute after Booth chopped down Cammy Kerr with Hateley sending in a superb free-kick from the right with Marcus Haber rising highest to bullet a header but it was straight at Cerny who saved easily. Sub Rory Loy then tried his luck with another header but again it was too close to the home keeper. Dundee continued to huff and puff but Thistle easily dealt with all they threw at them and Hartley’s men will have to dust themselves down quickly before the visit of St Johnstone to Dens on Saturday in the Tayside derby. Attendance – 3,758. Partick Thistle – Cerny, Booth, Welsh, Lindsay (Gordon, 45), Osman, Doolan, Erskine (Azeez, 66), Barton, Elliott, Devine, Edwards. Subs not used – Stuckmann, Amoo, Lawless, Wilson, McDaid. Dundee – Bain, Holt, Vincent (El Bakhtaoui, 58), O’Dea, Hateley, Etxabeguren(Loy, 78), McGowan, Haber, Gadzhalov, Kerr, Wighton. Subs not used – Mitchell, Williams, Ross, Curran, Gomis. Referee – Alan Muir.

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

Angus & The Mearns

Soldier assaulted fiancee a week after getting engaged

January 5 2015

A soldier who got engaged on Christmas Eve assaulted his fiancee and brandished a knife at her father after a 24-beer binge. Forfar Sheriff Court heard how Brechin man Darren Church downed two dozen bottles on New Year’s Day. He then got into a furious row over a TV remove control. Church admitted picking up a knife and challenging Kevin Elliot when he appeared from custody on Saturday. The 34-year-old also admitted assaulting Mr Elliot by pushing him, seizing him by the throat and pinning him against a wall. Church, of Montrose Street, also admitted shouting and swearing at his fiancee Rebecca Elliot and her father’s partner, Dawn Swankie, and repeatedly returning to the home after being asked to leave. He also assaulted Miss Elliot by repeatedly seizing her by the arms, pushing her on the body and throwing a ring at her to her injury. The offences all took place at an address at Middleton Park in Brechin on January 1 and 2. Fiscal depute Isma Mukhtar told the court: “At around 9pm the accused stopped speaking following a dispute over the television remote control. He then left the house and slammed the door. “He returned 30 minutes later at the living room window. He was told to go home because he’d had too much to drink and was told to go to his mother’s house to sleep it off.” Church then tried to gain entry by the rear door and started shouting abuse at Ms Swankie, who came out to the garden to confront him. “She tried to kick the accused’s leg, but he pushed his way into the house,” the fiscal depute said. “The accused was again asked to leave. At this point Kevin Elliot intervened and Church pinned him to the wall with his hand around his throat before releasing him. Matters then escalated and there appears to have been a stramash in the hallway. Rebecca Elliot attempted to keep the accused away from her father and stepmother and tried to lead him away. “The accused grabbed Rebecca Elliot by the upper right arm and demanded that she return a ring he had given her. She removed this and gave it to him. He then threw it at her, narrowly missing her face. The accused continued to argue and again grabbed her by the arm. “Kevin Elliot told him to let go or he would kill him. “Church picked up a small knife from the kitchen and told him ‘go on, you know you want to’ and then continued to goad the man into fighting him. The accused then left the address of his own volition.” Police were contacted and attended at the property in the early hours of January 2. They also returned later that morning after Church returned to the house. “He returned to the address and there was a physical fight between him and Kevin Elliot,” Ms Mukhtar said. Sheriff Pino Di Emidio deferred sentence until February 5 for a social work report.

Business news

Alliance Trust in £620 million bid to buy out rebel shareholder

January 27 2017

Alliance Trust has made an audacious £620 million bid to buy out activist investor Elliott. The hedge fund is the trust's largest single shareholder and has used its influence over the past two years to drive major change in how the fund manager operates. The Dundee-based trust today said it had entered into an agreement with Elliott to buy back its entire beneficial shareholding which extends to almost a fifth of the entire issued share capital. The repurchase - which is dependent on shareholder approval - will see Alliance Trust acquire a total of 95,478,576 ordinary shares directly and indirectly controlled by the Elliott grouping comprising Elliot International LP, the Liverpool Limited Partnership and Elliott Associates. The plan is to acquire the shares in five equal tranches, each at a 4.75% discount to the prevailing net asset value (NAV) at the time. At current NAV levels, the deal is worth in the region of £620m. In a statement to the London Stock Exchange, Alliance Trust said: "The board believes that the proposed repurchase is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders as a whole, having regard in particular to the uplift to NAV of approximately one per cent, which will accrue to the benefit of continuing shareholders; the ability for the company to move forward with its multi-manager proposal against the backdrop of a share register that is settled and supportive for the longer term; and the fact that the targeted annual costs of the ongoing company will remain competitive, amounting to no more than 65bps." Elliott has been on the Alliance Trust's share register for a number of years but came to prominence ahead of the group's 2015 AGM when it called for major boardroom change and an improvement in investment returns. The former management regime headed by then chief executive Katherine Garrett-Cox pitted themselves against the hedge fund,  but ultimately lost their fight and two Elliott nominated directors were co-opted on to the board. Lord Smith of Kelvin joined the trust as new chairman last January and has swept in a raft of changes at both board and operational level. The most significant move to date came last month when the trust revealed it had reached agreement to sell off its in-house investment management vehicle ATI and had instructed Willis Towers Watson (WTW) to oversee a new fund management structure. WTW has since identified eight global fund managers who will each have responsibility for running a portion of the trust's multi billion pound assets. The trust is due to hold an investor forum in Dundee today - one of three it is carrying out - to update shareholders on the new structure. A general meeting to approve the changes is due to take place in Edinburgh on February 28. For more, see Saturday's Courier

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.


Fife meteorite collector goes from rocks to riches

August 17 2013

A selection of meteorites found across the globe by intrepid Fife collector Robert Elliott will be auctioned in Edinburgh on Tuesday. Mr Elliott, from Milton of Balgonie, is the owner of the UK’s largest private collection of space memorabilia, which was valued at around £1 million several years ago. The collection includes one of the only pieces in the west of the Russian meteorite Chelyabinsk, which made headlines earlier this year, and was smuggled out of Russia by Mr Elliott. Auctioneers said there had been particular interest from several Russian collectors, with the space rock expected to make around £300-£400. A total of 60 rocks from Mr Elliot’s collection are being sold next week and are expected to realise around £90,000. On February 15 a small asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia, with an estimated speed of 41,000 miles per hour. At around 50 times the speed of sound, a huge, brilliant fireball was formed, brighter than the sun and bright enough to cause moving shadows on the ground, as it tracked across the sky. Due to its enormous velocity, the meteor exploded many times over Chelyabinsk at a height of about 15 miles. The explosions ripped the meteor apart, reducing the massive object to thousands of pea-sized meteorites, which were lost in the snow in and around Deputatsky village. Some seconds after the explosions, the pressure wave reached the ground, causing damage to people and property. A high brick wall of a factory was knocked down and hundreds of windows were blown in, with up to 1,500 residents injured by flying glass. The event was captured on many car dashboard cameras and the videos quickly became worldwide news. Found just hours after the fall, this is one of the freshest Chelyabinsk meteorites available to collectors. Mr Elliott said: “The Russian government told the local residents that they would arrest anyone selling pieces of the meteorite overseas, so my contact had to disguise the airmail package and mix the meteorites with pieces of electronic equipment to hide them. “The package was still opened by Russian customs, and several meteorites were confiscated, but most of them made it through to me.” It is estimated that each year approximately 30 meteorites fall on British soil yet only 20 have ever been found, only four in Scotland. His collection consists of more than 90 items from space and, as one of the world’s leading meteorite experts, Mr Elliott has been responsible for identifying three significant finds the Glenrothes meteorite in Fife in July 1997; the Hambleton meteorite in North Yorkshire in 2005; and the remains of a meteorite which fell in a Perthshire field last year. “Perthshire is a hot spot,” Mr Elliott said. “My next hunting expedition will be centred there, although I will not say where.” Over the past six years he has sold parts of his cosmic collection in various stages, netting a total of around £500,000.

Angus & The Mearns

RM Condor labourer loses unfair dismissal case

March 4 2014

A labourer at RM Condor whose contract was terminated because of ill-health after he suffered a stroke has lost his case for unfair dismissal. Michael Elliot of Cairnie Loan, Arbroath, believed he had managed all aspects of his job at the base for three years. An employment tribunal chaired by Ms M Robinson found that Mr Elliot’s employers, Aramark Ltd, had reasonable grounds to maintain the belief that he was unfit for his duties due to health reasons. The company were also correct in their conclusion that there were no reasonable adjustments to his duties that could be made to avoid dismissal. Mr Elliot was one of four labourers at the marine base, and towards the end of 2010 he indicated he was no longer prepared to drive a van on site. He had suffered a stroke and did not think it was safe for him to be behind the wheel. He was relieved of driving duties and heavier manual work. At the end of 2012, his superior, Vince Jones, was told Mr Elliot was in the labourers’ hut when he should be working, and when Mr Jones investigated he found him to be asleep. There was also an episode when the four labourers were asked to set out tables for an important function in the base, but Mr Elliot did not turn up. A disciplinary meeting followed, and Mr Elliot said he had suffered memory loss because of his stroke and that was the reason for him not recalling instructions. The company thought his job across a 6,000-acre military site was too demanding for someone with his disabilities and limitations, and he was sent for a medical examination. The test concluded that there were no adjustments that could enable him to work more effectively and that he wouldn’t be fit for his duties for the foreseeable future. In April last year his employment was terminated on grounds of there being no prospect of him being fit for work and a permanent replacement for him needed to be found.