The newly restored Dundee Burns Club banner has been unveiled at a special ceremony at the McManus galleries. The banner, which was last on public display in 1880, has undergone a restoration after the club, founded in 1860, donated it to the McManus in 2012. It was originally made in 1880 to coincide with the revealing of the Burns statue and cost around 50 shillings £125 in today’s money to produce. “The banner is silk and had deteriorated substantially,” explained Rhona Rodger, curator of social history at the McManus. “However, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the museum conservator, Rebecca Jackson-Hunt, who spent 170 hours painstakingly restoring the banner, it has been saved for future generations. “The banner will be on display for the next three months giving the public an opportunity to view Rebecca’s hard work and dedication,” she added. After the unveiling, the conservator and curator discussed the history of the banner and David Robb recited Tam o’ Shanter.
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...
THE ROYAL Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland has announced that David Jackson has stepped into the role of interim Highland Show manager. His appointment follows the shock announcement in October that Rebecca Elvin had lasted only eight months as the first female leader of Scotland’s flagship agricultural event. Ms Elvin, who joined the society from the Royal County of Berkshire Show, had only taken up the post at the Highland on February 25. She was recruited by the RHASS following the retiral of ex-show manager David Dunsmuir, who stood at the helm of the Highland for 15 years. Announcing her departure last month RHASS chief executive Stephen Hutt said Ms Elvin had left the society with immediate effect. According to an RHASS spokesperson, Ms Elvin departed the society under “mutual agreement”. Mr Jackson joins the society on an interim basis to allow recruitment for a permanent manager to get under way. He hails from the Southport Flower Show, where he stood as chief executive for more than five years. Starting his new job on Monday (November 25), Mr Jackson’s role will be to support the Royal Highland Show team in delivering the 2014 event.
Dog lovers paid tribute at the weekend to Fife woman Rebecca Johnson, allegedly murdered by her boyfriend in Lapland. Rebecca, who was well-known in canine sport circles, was found dead in the village of Kuttanen in the northern region of Finland on December 3. The 26-year-old from Burntisland was working there with Santa Safaris, which runs Christmas-themed tours for tourists. Her aunt Fiona Hay joined members of Dana’s Angels Fife and Carnegie Canines who held a minute’s applause for Rebecca at an event on Sunday and presented a best of show trophy named in her honour. Dana’s Angels Fife, which helps find lost dogs, posted on its Facebook page: “Rebecca’s life revolved around dogs and this seems a fitting tribute. “Our thoughts are with Rebecca’s family and friends at this time.” * For more on this story see Monday's Courier, also available as a digital edition.
‘It’s not every day you get to Hoover a bear’ McManus museum team get their teeth into spring cleaning
The thought of holding a vacuum cleaner up to a bear's behind or brushing a wolf's teeth may seem ludicrous, but to staff at The McManus it's all in a day's work. Curators and conservators at Dundee's museum have embarked on an unusual spring clean, attacking the stuffed animals of the Landscapes and Islands galleries first. ''It's not every day you get to Hoover a bear,'' geology and zoology curator David Lampard said as he dusted down the glass cases of the gallery. ''This is my gallery, so I normally look after the lighting and labelling, but this is a pretty major job. It's all hands to the pump.'' Various brushes, dusters and attachments were strewn across the exhibition floor as staff crawled under lynxes and otters, delicately removing the film of dust that has built up since the galleries reopened in March 2010. The spring clean was being orchestrated by conservator Rebecca Jackson-Hunt, who joined The McManus from the Riverside Project in Glasgow just before Christmas. ''We're hoping to get all of it done in a week,'' Rebecca said, perched on top of a glass cabinet, surrounded by bears and boars. ''We've the Landscapes and Islands galleries to do, Making Modern Dundee, Dundee and the World and the Victorian Gallery.'' Rebecca and zoology and botany curator Julie Campbell began to meticulously clean a bear with its bared teeth using a special vacuum and tiny soft brushes. ''We're using the conservation vacuum so it's just suction and not pulling the hair off,'' Rebecca explained. ''If you put water on dust you're just creating mush. We start with a dry clean because if dust is left on an object it will actually bond. We're hoping to do this once a year.'' As well as dusting the exhibits, the team were busy checking pest traps for moths and bugs while they carried out a hunt for woodworm death to any gallery. Luckily there was not so much as a telltale hole in sight. The McManus will remain open throughout the clean to provide the public with an insight into the upkeep of the gallery and the team are putting all their technical know-how into play. Voted Dundee's best-loved building in 2000, The McManus is home to eight galleries and journeys through 400 million years of local history. The landscape gallery where the clean began is meant to resemble how Dundee would have looked at the end of the last Ice Age, before any human activity, but as David explained it has become a bit of a moveable feast. He said: ''The idea with the top of the exhibition is to have animals which used to live here but have become extinct in the area. We put a beaver in the case just as they were starting to reintroduce them and people are talking about reintroducing wolves and lynxes. ''Otters have come back on their own and wild boars keep making escapes from abattoirs.'' He added that climate change could also mean some of the animals shown in the displays depicting wildlife could be forced from the area in coming years. ''With birds like ptarmigans and snow buntings, if it got really warm it would be a question of whether they would still survive here or have to be moved somewhere further north like Scandinavia,'' David said.
The trial of two people charged with the murder of a Montrose mum will be held in September. Steven Jackson, 40, and Michelle Higgins, 28, are accused of killing Kimberley MacKenzie at a flat in the Angus town last October. Prosecutors allege the 37-year-old was struck with a hammer, machete and knife or similar items. It is claimed Ms MacKenzie’s body was dismembered using a saw, knives and a screwdriver or similar instruments. Parts of the corpse are said to have been wrapped in bin liners and bags and hidden in bins at a number of addresses in Montrose. It is further alleged her head and other body parts were put inside a rucksack and case and concealed in a shower cubicle. Walls, floors and other surfaces of the flat are said to have been cleaned. Caustic soda and bleach are also alleged to have been poured into a bath and clothes and footwear disposed of. The charge claims this was all done “with intent to avoid detection, arrest and prosecution”. As well as the murder charge, Jackson and Higgins face an allegation of attempting to defeat the ends of justice. Jackson is further charged with two separate drugs accusations as well as having a machete in a public place. Higgins faces a similar allegation of having a knife. The pair appeared for a short hearing at the High Court in Glasgow today. Jackson’s QC Donald Findlay and Higgins’ lawyer Mark Stewart QC each pled not guilty on their behalf. Judge Lady Scott set a trial due to take place in September in Edinburgh.
Following a successful 2014 ‘Highland’, the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland has confirmed the permanent appointment of David Jackson as show manager. Mr Jackson joined the society on an interim basis last November following the shock departure of predecessor Rebecca Elvin, who lasted just eight months in the position. Ms Elvin, who joined the society from the Royal County of Berkshire Show, took up the post at the Highland in February last year. She became the society’s first female show manager after the retirement of David Dunsmuir, who had stood at the helm of Scotland’s flagship agricultural show for 15 years. But in a shock announcement last October, RHASS chief executive Stephen Hutt said Ms Elvin had left the society with immediate effect. Now, eight months after he stepped into the breach, the RHASS has confirmed Mr Jackson will remain a permanent fixture in the show manager’s position. Recognising his contribution to the 2014 event, which attracted more than 180,000 people to the Ingliston showground between June 19 and 22, Mr Hutt said David had “impressed the society” with his skill leading what is a “very complex” outdoor event. “His expertise attained from running world-class events has brought a fresh approach to an already well-established and much-loved show and we look forward to seeing further innovation over the coming years,” said Mr Hutt. Mr Jackson said it is a “huge privilege” to be appointed show manager for the “UK’s premier agricultural” show. “The Highland not only presents the best the industry has to offer but also provides a vibrant platform for Scotland’s finest food and rural life,” said Mr Jackson. “Having one show under my belt, I am now in a good position to identify where we can enhance what is already a hugely successful show. “Under the guidance of RHASS directors and with the support of my team, I am confident we can exceed the expectations of both the consumer and business audience as we continue to deliver an event worthy of the society and Scotland as a whole.” Mr Jackson has previously handled events such as Edinburgh’s Hogmanay and the four-day Southport Flower Show.
Murder accused Michelle Higgins told a policeman she attacked a woman with a hammer, a jury has heard. The 29-year-old who is on trial for the murder of Montrose woman Kimberley MacKenzie said she could not remember making the comment during a cigarette break at Dundee police station. Higgins and co-accused Steven Jackson, 40, deny murdering and dismembering Miss MacKenzie at Jackson's flat in Market Street, Montrose. The pair are further accused of disposing of her body parts in bins and bags around the town. On Monday, Higgins was questioned about her account of Miss MacKenzie's death. She told Glasgow High Court on Friday that Jackson had attacked her with a hammer, before repeatedly stabbing her with a skean dhu dagger. She accepted that she "didn't raise a finger" to help Miss MacKenzie and that she helped dispose of her body but she insisted she did nothing to harm her or dismember her. Donald Findlay QC, representing Jackson, asked Higgins if she remembered talking to Detective Constable Ian Ross at Dundee police station's custody suite. Mr Findlay said DC Ross, 56, made a statement, claiming that Higgins had told him: "I hit her on the legs." When he asked what she hit her with, Higgins replied: "With a hammer." However, Higgins told the court she had "no memory at all" of the exchange. She said she was in a "drugs induced psychosis" at the time. Higgins, who was diagnosed with a bipolar condition, said she was a "completely different person" at the time of Miss MacKenzie's death. She told the court that she had had a "large" heroin habit which cost her up to £80 a day. Mr Findlay accused her of giving jurors a "presentation" of evidence. "It was a performance, wasn't it?" he asked. Higgins replied: "A performance in a court room? Hardly." The court heard that Higgins and Jackson went out into Montrose town centre, hand in hand, while Miss MacKenzie's body lay in Jackson's living room. Higgins was also accused of showing no emotion as she told how her friend was killed. "When your mother gave evidence and looked at a photo of her granddaughter's rucksack, knowing it had been used by her daughter to hide body parts, she was distraught," said Mr Findlay. "You didn't show one hint of emotion when you gave your evidence," he told Higgins. She said: "Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a violent person. I've done plenty of bad things, but I wouldn't murder someone." Asked by advocate depute Ashley Edwards QC why she appeared to go out "shopping" with Jackson after Miss MacKenzie's murder, Higgins said: "I was just being like an obedient puppy and just doing as Steven wanted. It's stupid, I know." Higgins was quizzed about a text message exchange with Jackson on October 28, the day after Miss MacKenzie died. Jackson wrote: "I need help got some bits chopped offxx". Higgins replied: "Mink LOL". "LOL? This was someone who was meant to be your friend," said Ms Edwards. "Does this give an insight into you thinking at the time?" Higgins said: "I don't know, I was just going along with him." The trial continues.
Tributes have been paid to a “beautiful” Fife woman allegedly stabbed to death in Lapland. Rebecca Johnson, 26, had been working as part of a “Santa Safari” in Finland when police found her body on Saturday. The 26-year-old, from Burntisland, moved to the Scandinavian country to conduct Christmas-themed excursions for families. Rebecca’s 36-year-old boyfriend, described as a Czech national, has been arrested by police on suspicion of the killing. Lapland police confirmed the 36-year-old has been detained following a sub-zero manhunt involving snow scooters and a helicopter. The suspect had initially left on a dog sled, police say. As news of the tragedy emerged, family and friends paid tribute to Rebecca. The dog lover’s devastated great aunt Val Laing described her niece as “beautiful” and said she was finding it difficult to accept what had happened. She said: “Rebecca was a beautiful girl. I had come home from Edinburgh when her grandad was on the phone to tell me what had happened. I couldn’t take it in at first. “For her parents and grandparents to lose her just before Christmas is devastating. “I’ll be there for them, but I don’t know how they are going to cope.” Ms Laing revealed Rebecca had spent time in Sweden before moving to Finland, but admitted she knew little about her boyfriend. Burntisland locals also paid tribute. Family friend and owner of the town’s Mean Green Sandwich Machine cafe, Sil Scarlett, said: “I know the family well, we’re close. “They are nice people and both girls are lovely. They love their dogs. “They’re both princesses, that’s how I would describe them.” A spokeswoman for Santa Safari said: “We are deeply saddened to confirm that a member of the Santa Safari team was discovered dead on December 3. “We are all in shock from this tragic news and our thoughts go out to her family. “Our team is working closely with the Finnish police and relevant authorities to support the investigation that is now under way. “It goes without saying that we will do everything we can to support the family and our staff at this incredibly difficult time.” A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “We are supporting the family of a British national who died in Finland on December 3.” Police Scotland confirmed they have been contacted by the FCO regarding the incident are assisting them as required.
Police officers searching for a missing woman in a single-bedroom flat failed to find her butchered body lying in the bath, the High Court in Glasgow has been told. A search of murder accused Steven Jackson’s home was conducted without a single officer opening the door of his bathroom to look inside. The body of Kimberley Mackenzie was within, according to witnesses. It has emerged that four police officers carried out searches at Jackson’s home in Market Street, Montrose. Each admitted they had failed to open the bathroom door, with the officers blaming “miscommunication” and “distraction”. During two visits on the same day, they looked under a bed, opened cupboards, searched behind curtains in the living room and poked around the kitchen. The failure to enter the bathroom left presiding judge Lady Rae bemused and she questioned the methods used by Police Scotland. Having heard evidence from three officers it fell to Montrose PC Debbie Ironside to answer for the failings. Lady Rae asked the officer what it meant to search a house, adding “ do you mean just part of the house?”. The officer replied: “It means all of the house. I will search half of a property and a colleague will search the other half.” Lady Rae replied: “Is there some special system because you are the fourth officer that did not search the bathroom. The witness said colleagues “did usually communicate” but admitted that had not taken place on that occasion. PC Ironside admitted her attention had been drawn, midway through her search by a number of heavy duty black bags, half-filled with unknown but bulky contents and a chainsaw. The jury heard she and a colleague had accepted the explanation offered by Jackson, who told them: “There’s nothing to worry about. It belongs to a friend. There’s not even a motor in it.” The officers did not search the bags and did not to complete their search of the flat. The court heard how during the multiple visits by Police Scotland Jackson had been calm and unflappable and officers undertaking what was, at that time, a missing person inquiry had found nothing untoward. But during a return visit on November 4, as the search for missing Ms Mackenzie continued, officers were assaulted by the smell of death as they knocked on the door. PC Garry Smith said when he arrived with his colleague PC Michael Woodburn, they were aware of “a smell you would associate with a dead body” from the communal stairwell. Incense was being used to mask the smell. Moments after their arrival at his flat on November 4, Jackson had admitted killing his former partner Kimberley MacKenzie, PC Smith said. He told the High Court in Glasgow Jackson had made a series of admissions that began with his knowledge of her killing and his part in her death, before detailing her dismemberment and the disposal of her body in bins across Montrose. PC Smith said Jackson — identified in court as a drug dealer — confided in the officers that Miss Mackenzie had visited his flat and offered sex in exchange for drugs. That was overheard by co-accused Michelle Higgins, a heroin addict and his current partner, who had been in the flat’s single bedroom. He said she had run from the room with a hammer and had struck Miss Mackenzie “six or seven times in the head”. PC Smith continued: “He told us that he had finished Miss Mackenzie off by cutting her throat using a yellow-handled saw.” He was confessing at such a rate, the court heard, that the officers had trouble keeping up with their notetaking. He admitted cutting Miss Jackson’s body into numerous pieces in the bathtub. The parts were then placed in black bags, one of which burst and spilled blood on the living room floor. PC Smith said: “He said that he had cut her arms at the wrists, at the elbows and the shoulders, that he had cut her head off and cut her torso in two. “He had also cut her thighs off.” The body parts, he told the officers, had been placed in nearby bins on the street. He later admitted some parts had been moved to a house elsewhere in Montrose. CCTV footage was shown of Jackson and Higgins pulling suitcases through the streets between two locations named in charges. Jackson, 40, and co-accused Michelle Higgins, 29, are on trial at the High Court in Glasgow. They deny murdering and dismembering 37-year-old Kimberley Mackenzie at Jackson’s flat in October last year. It is alleged they cut up Miss Mackenzie’s body and put her parts into bins at Market Street, Paton’s Lane, Chapel Street and William Phillips Drive. Jackson and Higgins are also alleged to have cleaned and bleached the walls of the flat and disposed of a bloodstained rug. Both deny murder. The trial continues.