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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

September trial date for pair accused of murder of Montrose mum Kimberley MacKenzie

March 4 2016

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.

Business news

Andy Samuel appointed chief executive of new Oil and Gas Authority

November 7 2014

Senior BG Group executive Andy Samuel has been named as the inaugural chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority. The new Aberdeen-based industry regulator will come on-stream in April and will be responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Wood Review and maximising recovery on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). The announcement of Mr Samuel’s appointment came as Energy Secretary Ed Davey issued a call to the industry to submit its views on the Maximising Economic Recovery UK strategy, the scope of OGA’s regulatory powers and sanctions regime, and the cost recovery mechanism. Mr Samuel has been appointed for a fixed three-year term, with a further three-year option depending on performance. He said he was looking forward to leading the new industry watchdog as the North Sea entered a new era. “I know first-hand the challenges industry currently faces and am confident that implementing the vision set out in the Wood Review will create a strong future for the UK’s oil and gas industry,” Mr Samuel said. “I have much enjoyed my time at BG Group, with a lot to be grateful for, and am now looking forward to establishing the OGA and setting its priorities in the New Year.” Sir Ian Wood author of the Wood Review, which estimated that a further four billion barrels of extra oil could be recovered from the UKCS through better industry collaboration and the adoption of new extraction techniques said that Mr Samuel’s new role was central to the long-term effectiveness of the new industry regulator. He said: “The OGA will need to work very closely with industry over the coming years, and Andy’s impressive experience and the significant credibility he holds within the industry will put him in a very strong position to encourage the industry collaboration that is needed as we enter the next phase of the UKCS.” The new CEO has spent the past 19 years with BG Group and has been managing director for European exploration and production since 2012. He was previously president and general manager of the US Exco Appalachia joint venture, where he had responsibility for BG Group’s Marcellus shale play and associated developments, had also served as chief operating officer of BG Trinidad and Tobago, and was a board member of Atlantic LNG. The Energy Secretary welcomed Mr Samuel’s appointment as he opened a new industry consultation, which will run until December 31, on the Wood Review recommendations. He said: “It’s vital for Government to work closely with industry to maintain Britain’s energy security, and Andy is superbly placed to steer the OGA to maximise the economic recovery of our oil and gas resources. “We’re also asking industry for their views to make sure we implement the Wood Review recommendations in the most efficient and practical way.” Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said Mr Samuel’s new role would not only see him shape the future of North Sea oil extraction but also play a key role in the development of the wider UK economy. “Oil and gas is one of the UK’s most valuable industries, supporting 450,000 jobs in Scotland and across the country,” he said.


Samuel L Jackson ‘nearly killed’ St Andrews golf fan

April 22 2013

Movie legend Samuel L Jackson, who starred as a hitman in Pulp Fiction, has told how he nearly took out a spectator while playing golf at St Andrews. The actor revealed how he “nearly killed” the fan in a star-studded bash at Scotland’s top course when he accidentally smacked his ball straight into the crowd. He said he was playing the Old Course when a simple chip on the 18th hole went wrong and hit a woman in the crowd, although fortunately she wasn’t hurt. Are you or do you know the golf fan who ended up star-struck? Call The Courier news desk on 01382 575290 or email news@thecourier.co.uk.

Angus & The Mearns

Police failed to find body in small Montrose flat, murder trial hears

December 2 2016

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.

Angus & The Mearns

Montrose murder trial: Victim’s blood found in ex-boyfriend’s flat

December 14 2016

Blood matching Montrose mum Kimberley MacKenzie's was found throughout her ex-boyfriend's flat, a jury has heard. Forensic biologist Jacqueline Sharp told Glasgow High Court a total of 45 blood spots were found at the Market Street property of murder accused Steven Jackson. Miss MacKenzie's blood was also found on one of his shoes. Ms Sharp said spots of blood were found on a sofa and armchair in the living room, as well as on a glass table and skirting board. More samples were taken from the hallway and bathroom. Asked by Advocate Depute Ashley Edwards if blood found at the bathroom door could have been caused by an injured person being carried into the room, Ms Sharp said: "Yes, that would be one explanation." Under cross examination by Donald Findlay QC, representing Jackson, she also accepted there could be "thousands" of reasons. Miss Sharp said that some of the blood found in the flat had been diluted or smeared as if the area had been washed or cleaned. Jackson, 40, and co-accused Michelle Higgins 29, deny murdering and dismembering Miss MacKenzie. They face further allegations that they disposed of Miss MacKenzie's body parts in bins and cleaned the flat and bath with bleach and caustic soda. The court has heard the 37-year-old died at the flat in October, last year. Forensic scientist Barry Mitchell said traces of DNA matching Jackson were found on the handle of the suitcase which held Miss MacKenzie's severed head and thighs. Traces of Miss MacKenzie's blood were also found on one of Jackson's shoes. Mr Mitchell said the chances of the blood being anyone else's were one in more than a billion. The court heard more of Miss MacKenzie's blood was found on Higgins' mobile phone, underneath its outer casing. DNA and blood matching Miss MacKenzie were also found on a claw hammer found in Jackson's living room. The jury was also told Jackson had texted Miss MacKenzie on October 17 — 10 days before she died. He wrote: "I'm with Mishy now and it would be easier if you stop coming. Please. I really want to make a go of it with her." Miss MacKenzie replied: "Yeah, no probs. I'm sorry I've made things difficult 4 u. What happens when you get gear again. Will still sell me? x" Dr Robert Cumming, who examined Higgins while she was in police custody, told the court she had the initials SJ "carved" on her leg. The trial before Lady Rae continues.


War memorial name corrected 97 years after death

April 15 2013

A retired doctor has won a fight to have her great uncle’s name spelled correctly on a village memorial 97 years after he died in France aged 20 during the First World War. Alison Corfield said the mis-spelling of Private George Samuel’s name as “Samuels” on the memorial at Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, caused “great distress” to his parents. Parish councillors in Shepreth have decided to have the final “s” removed after a plea from Mrs Corfield, 67, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Shepreth Parish Councilchairman Donna Thomas said a stonemason had given advice and changes would be made. “We will be making the amendment to the war memorial and will be covering the cost,” she said. “We have also spoken to the local vicar and she has said that once the correction has been made there will be a re-dedication and we will be inviting the family to attend.”

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

Montrose murder trial: Michelle Higgins denies hammer attack

December 20 2016

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.

UK & World

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.