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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...

Perth & Kinross

Alan Gardner murder trial: Accused told police Perthshire jeweller was ‘like a father’ to him

March 22 2016

A pizza chef accused of murder told cops his alleged victim was “like a father” to him, a jury’s been told. Nikola Zhulev described Perthshire jeweller Alan Gardner as “my very close friend” and said Mr Gardner had helped him a lot, the High Court at Livingston heard. Zhulev, 30, made the statements during a police interview after he was detained on suspicion of stealing Mr Gardner’s Toyota 4x4. He claimed Mr Gardner had sold him the car earlier on Monday April 20, four days before the freelance jeweller’s body was found “cocooned” in a duvet with his ankles bound with tape in his bungalow at Croft Park, Balbeggie, last April. He told Detective Sergeant Brian Ferry that he’d received a message from a friend the day before on Facebook saying Mr Gardner was dead. Zhulev claimed he last met Mr Gardner on Tuesday April 21 when he took a McDonald’s takeaway meal to the dead man’s home in Croft Foot, Balbeggie. However, the jury was shown a McDonalds receipt found by police during a search of the Toyota which was dated Monday April 20. Zhulev denied trying to sell the blue Rav4 to drug dealer Mark Griffin shortly before police swooped on his rented bedsit in South Street, Perth, and found him lying unconscious on the floor. However, Mr Griffin, 34, gave evidence that Zhulev had first offered him the vehicle for £750 before dropping the price to £350 or so on a subsequent occasion. The self-confessed drug dealer said Zhulev was a heroin addict who had regularly bought drugs from him for cash and had “pledged” two gold rings in return for drugs. He said: “Nico had given me them as collateral for heroin, like he didn’t have the money. “He gave me them in place until he could give me the money and get the jewellery back.” Mr Griffin said Zhulev had also tried to sell him camera equipment and had twice turned up with hundreds of pounds in cash in the week before Mr Gardner’s death. “It was a hundred and odd pounds he spent at one point,” he said. “He came up at another point with two hundred and odds in cash. Big wads.” Mr Griffin went on to claim Zhulev also got Diazepam from a source in his native Bulgaria and was “possibly” selling both drugs on for profit. He said he didn’t know where the accused was getting his money from. “I asked him at one stage. He wouldn’t tell me,” he said. Mr Griffin then revealed that the accused had given him a lift in the blue Toyota and had told him the car was in his name. He told the jury that the day Zhulev was detained he had seen the police coming out of a private road with the Toyota on the back of a Lorry. He said: “I texted Nico, saying: ‘Someone taking our car’. “I’d already arranged to buy the car off him. “ Jennifer Anderson, 35, a forensic scientist with Police Scotland, told the court she examined several items for DNA but found no samples which matched the DNA of the accused. She said she first examined layers of clear tape found on Mr Gardner’s legs for genetic material. She added: “We swabbed the sticky side of the tape to try and recover any cellular material adhering to that side. “The swabs we analysed and DNA profile obtained matched the DNA profile of Alan Gardner. “The sticky side of the manufacturers tab was then swabbed, the end tab of the tape. “If that had been used at the beginning of a roll that would have been we here somebody would need to have touched it to unravel the tape. “A low level partial mixed DNA profile of at least two contributors was obtained which in our opinion was unsuitable for comparison purposes. “It means there was more than one person contributing, it was partial so it was incomplete and it was at a low level, so of poor quality.” An area under the tape binding Mr Gardner’s legs and an area around his ankles were also swabbed. In each case the DNA profile obtained matched the DNA profile of Alan Gardner. However, minor DNA types were also obtained from touch tape samples from underneath the tape on the deceased’s ankles. Mrs Anderson said: “In our opinion these minor DNA types were insufficient for comparison purposes. There was low level of DNA there. “The remaining DNA extract from that sample was submitted to SPA Forensic Services, Glasgow, for analysis using a technique known as Globafiler DNA profiling. It’s more sensitive and it looks at more areas of the DNA.” Other scientists had carried out that analysis, she said. Finally, she said, Mr Gardner’s DNA had been found on base of the 1.5 kilogram frying pan believed to have been used to hit him on the head causing a fatal brain injury. She said: “The full and partial DNA profiles obtained matched the corresponding DNA types in the DNA profile of Alan Gardner. We checked handles of the pan but there was nothing found that was suitable for comparison.” The trial continues.

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

Perth & Kinross

Women taking on marathon fundraising walk from Dundee to Perth

April 6 2018

A pair of St Johnstone fans have set themselves a marathon challenge this weekend – walking from Tannadice in Dundee to McDiarmid Park. Linda Sime from Abernethy and Catherine Scott from Methven are undertaking the 26-mile plus trek to raise funds for Saints in the Community. On Saturday the pair will be dropped off early at the home of Dundee United and will set off to walk along the Carse of Gowrie to arrive at McDiarmid Park in time for the Motherwell game. Trust chief executive Atholl Henderson is in awe of the challenge the pair have set themselves which will support the trust’s work with young and old in the wider  community. “There is no way I could complete the distance that Linda and Catherine are taking on and we can’t thank them enough for helping the community trust in this way,” he said. “All being well, the ladies will arrive at McDiarmid on time so that we can introduce them to the crowd at half time during the Motherwell game.” Iain Smith, funding and marketing manager, St Johnstone Community Trust added: “The distance is greater than for a marathon but Linda and Catherine are determined to succeed and to raise as much money as possible for the trust. “They have ‘previous’ having last year walked the other way from Perth to Dundee. “The ladies attend the Saints in the Community fit fans sessions and now come along to Danny Griffin’s regular circuits class. “They are well aware of the great work that the trust does across Perth and Kinross and want to give something back by raising much needed funds.” For anyone who wants to support the marathon walkers, donations can be handed in to Greggs in the St Catherine's Retail Park, to Methven Post Office or to the Community Trust office at McDiarmid Park. Donations can also be made online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lindacatherinewalk.

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.


Police appeal to trace missing Dundee family at centre of adoption row

October 15 2015

Police say a a Dundee who were reported missing have been traced safe and wellcouple apparently fled to London amidst an adoption row. Murray Hanlon and Ceri Griffin were last seen with one-year-old son Xzander Hanlon in the city’s Lochee Road on Tuesday. They are believed to have travelled to London and officers are keen to speak to anyone who may have travelled south by bus on October 13. On social media, Ms Griffin, 29, rails against “forced adoption” and accuses the authorities of “corruption”. In the past, she has launched and then abandoned a webpage entitled “justiceforweemurray”, saying she had been silenced. It is understood the couple have another son named Murray around whom the adoption row centres. Ceri is described as being five foot seven inches tall, medium build and having dyed blonde hair. Murray is described as being five foot nine inches tall, with short brown hair with a fringe and was last seen wearing a dark grey zip up hooded top and carrying a dark coloured rucksack. The couple were carrying two or three bags and also a children’s buggy. Anyone who knows where the family are is asked to contact Tayside Division on 101 or speak to any police officer. Read more on this story in Friday's Courier.

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


Better Together deletes ‘Nazi’ tweet woman’s blog post

August 19 2014

A blog post has been pulled from Better Together’s official website amid allegations its author had expressed “unacceptable” views on the internet. Yvonne Hama’s online article, “Why I’m saying No Thanks”, appeared on the pro-Union campaign group’s homepage on Sunday but was inaccessible by Monday. It came after claims Ms Hama had previously retweeted former BNP leader Nick Griffin and compared the SNP to Nazis. A Better Together spokesman said: “Yvonne is not a politician. However, views like this are completely unacceptable.” According to reports, Ms Hama, a ‘single mother from Airdrie’, sent a tweet to Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in January 2012 which read: “u will like borgen...german...#snp nazis ring a bell :)”. Ms Hama appeared to have tweeted a photograph of herself alongside Better Together head Alistair Darling on Saturday. The text alongside the photograph read: “Was honoured to speak at the better together event in coatbridge alongside @TogetherDarling #indyref.”

Perth & Kinross

Call for Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop to be questioned by Holyrood committee over T in the Park cash

September 7 2015

Opposition politicians have demanded Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop is dragged before a Holyrood committee to explain why she gave £150,000 of public money to T in the Park. In a joint statement, Scottish Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat MSPs called for the SNP minister to answer questions on the controversy. It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ruled Ms Hyslop had acted appropriately in awarding the grant to the multi-million pound Perthshire festival. In a letter to Education Committee convener Stewart Maxwell, fellow members John Pentland, Liam McArthur, Mark Griffin and Liz Smith said: “In parliament last week, Fiona Hyslop declared that the award of £150,000 to the T in the park festival earlier this summer was given to ‘ensure its viability’. “Her comments have only served to deepen the growing confusion over why the award of state aid was granted to this event. The money was released after the event took place. T in the Park is run by a profitable company. “There has been no adequate explanation as to what the money was used for; consequently we believe the business case for the award drawn up by civil servants should be published.” Former Scottish Government advisor, Jennifer Dempsie, set up a meeting between festival bosses DF Concerts and ministers to discuss funding, although she did not attend. After a meeting with ministers on May 28, the culture secretary signed off an “ad hoc state aid” package for the festival on July 2. Ms Hyslop has insisted it was required to help ensure the festival took place, although it has been reported that Ms Hyslop did not take legal advice from Scottish Government lawyers before making the award. It is not known whether civil servants drew up a business case for the Minister. A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “After looking into the matter carefully and taking advice from the Permanent Secretary, the First Minister has concluded that the Cabinet Secretary for Culture acted entirely appropriately in her handling of this issue. “The awarding of this funding was based solely on the merits of the case following an objective assessment by Scottish Government officials.”

Angus & The Mearns

Angus councillor inspired by great-granny’s essay on the suffragists

February 9 2018

An Angus councillor has unearthed a fascinating insight into men’s views on the suffragists as the nation commemorated the centenary of some women winning the right to vote. Brenda Durno, SNP member for Arbroath and East Lunan, has been so inspired by an essay written by her great-grandmother in 1904, she is hoping to donate it to a museum in the north east. The amusing reflection was written in the Doric language by Isabella Moir, a 12-year-old pupil at Belhelvie School in Aberdeenshire. She was the eldest of 10 children and had two sisters and seven brothers. Councillor Durno said: “The celebration for the 100 years since women won the right to vote made me think of the essay. “My great grandmother was born in September 1892 and died in May 1992. “She latterly lived in Potterton with my aunt and uncle who ran the shop there and I found the essay when she died.” Mrs Durno chose to enter local politics in the footstep of her father, the SNP councillor Alex Shand, but admitted her great-grandmother was a Liberal supporter. “She was right into politics and was a great friend of Lord Tweedsmuir - the SNP wasn’t around then.” The essay relates to a conversation between a brother and sister as he reads a newspaper article on ‘The Suffragists’. As he works his way through the article, his views become apparent. He berates the efforts of the “limmers of suffragists” claiming “weemans place is at hame” It reads: “They canna mak an men their men’s sarks, keep a clean fireside an have a vote. “Gie then an inch an they wid tak an ill (mile).” The essay goes on to say there a was a time when women were happy “tae tak the chance o’ the first man that socht them, an thankful tae leave the voting an the rulin o the nation tae him”. It was on February 6, 1918 that women aged over 30, those who owned property or had a university education were granted the right to vote through the Representation of the People Act. Mrs Durno is hoping to donate the essay to a museum which specialises in the Doric and would welcome suggestions as to who to contact.