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Perth & Kinross

‘The justice system has let the family down’ callous pair escape prison for stealing from frail pensioner Myra Kincaid

April 5 2012

The victim of a callous breach of trust has hit out at the soft justice that allowed a thieving husband and wife to escape a jail sentence. Heartbroken pensioner Myra Kincaid said her life had been ruined by Maureen and Martin Ferguson, who raided her bank account as she lay paralysed in hospital. The couple were entrusted with Mrs Kincaid's post office account card to pay bills and run errands for her as she fought for her life. Instead, they repeatedly dipped into her account to steal money, which they then used to "pay off debts and settle household bills". The betrayal came as a terrible blow to Mrs Kincaid (68), who said she had treated Mrs Ferguson "like a daughter" since she was just seven years old. As they escaped imprisonment on Wednesday, Mrs Kincaid and her family expressed disgust at both their actions and the sentences handed down. Speaking outside Perth Sheriff Court, Mrs Kincaid said the bonds of friendship had been broken and that she believed the couple should have been jailed. The Fergusons, of Muirmont Crescent, Bridge of Earn, had initially been charged with stealing £7,000 from Mrs Kincaid's account, but eventually pled guilty to taking £2,500. Mrs Ferguson (47) was ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work, while her 56-year-old husband who appeared at court in a wheelchair was told he will be fitted with an electronic tag and be confined to his home between 7pm and 7am each day.'They thought I was going to die'Mrs Kincaid's ordeal began when she was struck down by Guillain-Barre syndrome a nervous system condition which left her unable to move from the neck down in June 2010. When it became clear her stay in hospital would be lengthy, and with her family based on the west coast, she turned to Maureen Ferguson for help. It was only when she was finally able to leave Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and return home that her suspicions were raised. She realised there were a lack of bank statements and was shocked when her bank revealed the amount of money that had been removed during her stay in hospital. The Fergusons later admitted taking the money from Post Office cash machines at Errol, Bridge of Earn and Perth between June 1 and December 14 2010. Mrs Kincaid said: "I was in hospital for no more than a day before they first dipped into my account to withdraw money. "They took it because they thought I was going to die or I was going to be in a home the rest of my life and they would get away with it. "I have known Maureen since she was seven and her husband ever since they were married and I trusted them." Mrs Kincaid said she has been left frightened by the betrayal and the fallout from the break-up of long-held friendships and no longer feels safe in her own home. She has already moved house and now plans to move to Ayrshire to live with her sister, Anne Reid, and her family.Not 'real punishment'Nonetheless, she admitted the ordeal would live with her for some time, saying: "This will give me no peace of mind. "I do not think what has happened to them today is real punishment." Anne Reid was also in court yesterday to offer support to Mrs Kincaid and hear the sheriff deliver his verdict to the Fergusons. She admitted she'd been left angry by the outcome of court proceedings and said: "This is not what we wanted it is not what we were looking for. We firmly believe that they should have been given prison sentences. I feel that the justice system has let the family down. "This has taken away my sister's confidence and has left her scared and worried all the time." Solicitor Alison Mackay represented Maureen Ferguson in court and told Sheriff Michael Fletcher that her client was "unable to explain how the offence had come to be committed or give any explanation for her behaviour". She attempted to persuade the court her client had not gained as a result of the theft, but Mrs Kincaid's family claimed the Fergusons had spent some of the money stolen on electrical goods and parties. Sentencing the husband and wife, Sheriff Fletcher said: "This was an act of betrayal that is very difficult to excuse. To have lost such a large sum of money in this way must have left a very bad taste in your victim's mouth." The two accused were each ordered to pay £1,250 compensation within seven days to recompense Mrs Kincaid for the amount stolen.

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

‘They ruined my life’ pensioner’s savings stolen by woman she ‘treated like a daughter’

March 16 2012

A heartbroken pensioner who was robbed of thousands of pounds by a close family friend as she lay paralysed in hospital says: "They ruined my life." Widowed Myra Kincaid (68) entrusted her post office account card to the woman she had ''treated like a daughter'' since she was seven years old during a 6-month stay in Ninewells Hospital. However, callous Maureen Ferguson regularly dipped into her friend's account until she and her husband, Martin Ferguson, were caught by police. Myra said: ''They ruined my life. I can't trust anybody any more.'' Her ordeal began when she was struck down by Guillain-Barre syndrome a nervous system condition which left her unable to move from the neck down in June 2010. When it became clear her stay in hospital would be lengthy, and with her family based in the west coast, she turned to Ferguson a childhood friend of her daughter for help. She said: ''I've known Maureen Ferguson since she was seven and I've treated her like a daughter. Her mum and I were best friends from 1970 when we were both in Errol together. ''I was in Errol and had my pension paid into the post office there and I asked her to take it from the post office and put it in the bank for my direct debits and personal things I needed. But they just helped themselves whenever they wanted. ''When I came home I was looking for statements and couldn't find them. I asked Martin to get me some money to do me over Christmas and that's when I discovered something was wrong and the police were called in. ''They took it because they thought I was dying or going to be in a home the rest of my life and they would get away with it.'' The Fergusons, of Muirmont Crescent, Bridge of Earn, were charged with stealing £7,000 from Myra's account and a drawn-out court case followed during which the trial was delayed because Martin Ferguson claimed he was radioactive. He said he was a danger to others because of radioactive iodine treatment he was receiving for an over-active thyroid gland. He also appeared at court in a wheelchair something which Myra said she hadn't seen him using in over a decade. They pled guilty last week, days before the rescheduled trial, to taking £2,500. It is small consolation to Myra that she will not now have to appear at court. She said: ''I've waited 15 months to tell my side of the story and I've been terrified. I've had to move house because of this. I sit with my doors locked day and night and looking over my shoulder all the time because I'm so scared. ''Maureen was a lovely young woman but she's totally in thrall to him (Martin Ferguson) now. I hope they go to prison but I know they won't because they've said they will pay back the £2,500 to avoid a custodial sentence. ''I'm not taking the money. I'm going to write a letter to the procurator fiscal. They're evil I'd rather they went to jail.'' The Fergusons will be sentenced next month.

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

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Argentine family ‘deeply grateful’ after Arbroath marine sends Battle of Two Sisters relic back where it belongs

October 30 2015

The identity tag of a fallen Argentine soldier that lay in a former Angus Marine’s drawer for 33 years has been returned to his family. Graham Ellis, from Kirkton of Auchterhouse, removed the tag from the body of Assistant Sergeant Ramon Gumersindo Acosta on the battlefield in the Falkland Islands in 1982. Acosta was killed by a mortar blast following the Battle of Two Sisters, which took place over two days in June as British forces advanced toward Port Stanley. A 20-year-old member of Arbroath-based 45 Commando at the time, Mr Ellis and his unit were ordered to remove the tags from the dead bodies for identification by the Red Cross. Mr Ellis placed the tag in his pocket and only discovered it on his return to Britain. It remained in a drawer until a comrade of Mr Acosta’s saw an article on this website about Mr Ellis’s attempts to return it to the fallen soldier’s family. It was sent back to Argentina and is now with his daughter, with plans for a formal presentation by the Argentine government to take place in the near future. Mr Ellis said he was “very pleased”, while a former comrade of Mr Acosta said the family were “deeply grateful” to Mr Ellis and The Courier. Acosta was a national hero and a street bears his name in his native town of Jess Mara. He had written a letter to his five-year-old son, Diego, eight days before he died. It read: “I write from my position to tell you that two days ago we were in a helicopter which was bombed, the helicopter fell and caught fire, killing several colleagues of mine but I was saved and am now awaiting the final attack. “I saved three comrades from the flames. I tell you so you know you have a father you can be proud of and want you to keep this letter as a document if I do not return: and if I go back tomorrow, when we’re together I will read it at home.”

Shows & Sales

Irish eyes smiling in the show ring at Stirling

February 15 2016

The luck of the Irish prevailed in the show ring at Stirling on Sunday with both the supreme champion and reserve supreme champion rosettes awarded to breeders from Northern Ireland. Leading the charge on the opening day of the second week of the spring Stirling Bull Sales was Derrycallaghan Fireworks, from grandfather and grandson duo Harold Stubbs and Alan Burleigh of Crummy, Ballindarragh. The duo, who took the same title at last year’s fixture, lifted this year’s rosettes with a February 2014-born AI son of Slimero Victory, out of Derrycallaghan Winner. Judge Gary Christie, of Midtown of Glass, Huntly, said the champion was a “well-fleshed young bull” with a “good bit of character about it”. Taking the reserve overall and intermediate champion rosettes was July 2014-born Kilbridge Farm Foreman from Billy, Michael and Matthew Robson, Doagh, Ballyclare. Foreman is a home-bred son of Crugmelyn Brenin out of Kilbride Farm Jolly 7T. The Robsons also took the reserve intermediate champion rosettes with August 2014-born Kilbride Farm Fearless, which is by Crugmelyn Brenin and out of Kilbride Farm Eunice 105B. Meanwhile, the senior champion title was awarded to Stewart Stronach, Berryleys Farm, Grange, Keith. Islavale Ferrari is a home-bred April 2014-born son of Curaheen Bandit, out of Islavale Victoria. The reserve senior champion title went to father and son duo Val and Conrad Fegan of Rostrevor, Newry, Northern Ireland. Knockreagh Feggy is an AI son of Kilbride Farm Bantry out of Knockreagh Annabelle. Meanwhile, the reserve junior champion rosettes were awarded to Michael Barlow, Foar Oaks, Ulnes Walton Lane, Leyland. Denizes Fantastic is a November 2014 AI son of Whitemire King Kong out of Denizes Tonia 4th. In the female section, the champion title went to Northern Irish breeder Robin Boyd, Slievenagh Farm, Portglenone. Sterling Myra’s Erin is an October 2013-born daughter of Sterling Cotswold 11, out of Thursford Myra 21st. Lastly, the reserve female champion title was awarded to Gerald and Morag Smith’s Drumsleed herd at Fordoun, Laurencekirk. Drumsleed Flick is a March 2014-born daughter of Grangewood William, by Popes Laird, out of Drumsleed Patti.

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

Perth & Kinross

Objectors fight bid for budget holiday camp in rural Perthshire

May 8 2017

Members of a remote Perthshire community are battling to block “major” plans for a budget holiday camp. Eco Camp Scotland wants to set up 60 tent pitches, 25 camping pods and eight timber lodges across 16 acres of land at Kinvaid Farm, north of Moneydie. Agents for the company said the plans were submitted after “considerable market research”. They said the site would be aimed at tourists looking for “a simple low cost, low impact holiday sampling the best that Perthshire has to offer”. However, the proposal has received a frosty reception from some locals. Nearly 30 people have written to Perth and Kinross Council, calling for the scheme to be scrapped. Among the objectors is the Luncarty, Redgorton and Moneydie Community Council. Chairman George Black said: “Moneydie is a very quiet, rural area where the main industry is farming. The application has created a lot of interest in the community, a substantial number of whom are solidly against the proposed change-of-use.” He said the development would have “significant impact” on the area’s network of narrow, single track roads. “The increased traffic of visitors staying at the campsite, travelling to and from the site and visiting attractions elsewhere, will lead to road safety problems, not only for motorists but also to cyclists on the signposted cycle route, and pedestrians.” Other objectors have argued that, because of the size of the proposal, it should be treated as a “major application” by council officers, meaning it would need to come under wider scrutiny, In paperwork lodged with the local authority, a spokesman for designers Aptus Architects said: “The main focus of the brief is to create a sustainable eco-campsite, sustainable both in an environmental but also financial sense. “There is also a strong desire to retain and enhance the natural shelter and beauty of the site.”

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

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