Update: Family says death of Edinburgh victim a “devastating loss”

The family of John Carter who was beaten and left to die in a lift in Edinburgh’s Salamander Court in February last year have said “nothing can lessen the heartache we have gone through”.

Their statement comes a few hours after Simon Brown and Paul Banks were found guilty of culpable homicide and sentenced in Glasgow High Court to eight years imprisonment each, over the death of Mr Carter.

The family described the deceased as “a vibrant, fiercely intelligent, loving man who brought countless joy to the lives of his family and friends.”

They added “his laughter, his kindness, his ability to accept individuals for who they were and his inherent sense of fairness, were just a tiny part of who he was. If John could help, he would.”

Brown, 41, and Banks, 48, left Mr Carter to die on the 26th or 27th of February last year. They dumped his semi-naked in a lift after putting handcuffs on their victim and punching and kicking him repeatedly. They put a plastic bag over his head. Bruises to the scalp, chest and wrists were found in the post mortem examination.

The victim’s wallet was found on Paul Brown when he was searched by police.

Judge Michael O’Grady said they would have received ten years each if they hadn’t admitted the charge.

“You behaved with extreme cruelty and utter indifference. No sentence I can impose can ease the ordeal of Mr Carter’s family,” said the judge.

The pair admitted culpable homicide after the charge was reduced from murder.

Pistol pensioner spared jail

The Edinburgh High Court: Woodward was admonished for possession of the gun

A 64 -year- old grandmother has been spared jail from the High Court of Edinburgh today after standing trial for illegal possession of a revolver.

Kathleen Woodward was arrested after admitting that she kept a Harrington and Richardson pistol in her house without a license.

The gun, which had owned by the by her late husband, was stolen from her Moray house by Guy Whitlaw last March. Whitlaw was sentenced to a five year jail term last year.

The law states that illegal firearm possession should automatically lead to a five year jail sentence. However, Judge Lady Stacey said there were extenuating circumstances, including Mrs Woodward’s work in her local community and for charity.

Mrs Woodward was admonished for possession of the gun but allowed to walk free.

Court hears phone abuse evidence in murder case

A millionaire made infuriated threats in an enraged phone call to his brother, Toby, hours before Toby was killed, the high court heard.

Later that day, Toby Siddique, 38, was murdered in his flat on Forres Drive in Glenrothes on October 25 2010. His brother, Mo Siddiq, 34, was charged with murder and conspiracy to murder last year. The accused, Mo Siddique, was arrested under suspicion of hiring assassins. Two Bulgarian men, Tencho Andonov, 28, and Nikolov, 27, were accused of carrying out the murder.

The third brother Aleem Siddique, 40, gave evidence this week. Yesterday he told the high court that his brother had made a phone call to him after a dispute about a BMW. Mo said, “I’ll hit him.”

Advocate depute John Scullion, prosecuting, then read out his statement from October 2010 recounting the same phone call. “He’s not my brother blah, blah, blah, I’ll kill him.”

Much discussion followed on the similarity of the words “hit” and “kill” in Punjabi. At one point the judge stepped in, telling Siddique that he was right to object to the prosecution’s ‘confusing’ questions.

He said, “It’s a bit of a coincidence that the police have noted down the translation of the similar word in Punjabi that is the word for kill?”

Mr Scullion said, “I’m asking you about how the words came to be on that page. Is it your evidence on oath that the police who noted this statement simply made up these words?”

Aleem said, “I’m not saying the police officer lied but I did not say those words. Whatever happened on the 26th, the mistake is the police officer’s, the mistake is not mine.”

Derek Ogg QC, defence for, then asked “Do you feel in a difficult position coming to court with one brother murdered and one accused?”

In tears, Mr Siddique replied, “I just want justice, that’s all that matters”.

He agreed with Mr Ogg that “you would not tell lies for Mo but wont tell lies against him either”.

The examination went on to reveal that it seemed the accused had been sleeping on the night of the murder, when the witness woke him up. He said he had to repeat the news a couple of times to Mo who “didn’t register”.

The court heard that Mo was “in shock” and crying when both brothers visited their widowed sister-in-law’s house immediately to pay their respects.

Ogg then focussed on inheritance motives. “Did Toby’s wife say things to you about her suspicions that each brother had a will that would inherit the other brother if they died? She told me Mo would get everything.

“You asked Mo if he stood to gain. At Toby’s house you had been constantly told gossip by… I need you to say the words.”

Aleem Siddique said, “His wife and mother.”

The trial continues.

Teenager admits murder in Edinburgh trial

John Reid. Photo: Edinburgh Evening News

By Elizabeth (Xiaoqing Ding)

A teenager has admitted the killing of a Chinese takeaway driver in Edinburgh.

John Reid, 16, pleaded guilty at Edinburgh High Court to charges of culpable homicide, which took place on August 11.

Simon San, who was born in Vietnam of Chinese Origin worked as a delivery driver of  Yong Hua Gardens Takeaway.  Mr San died of a head injury after being punched by Reid.

“He did not stagger, he fell straight down. The back of his head connected with a flat section of the pavement. I would describe the noise as a sickening thud. He was lying on his back and did not move. I knew straight away he was in trouble,” described by the witness, Callum Milne.

The teenager also took part in a robbery at a home of a disabled mother and her four children several months before. He burst into the home with two other robbers at around 11.50pm on January 11.”I was told again and again that me and my kids would be stabbed to death if we didn’t help them.” said by the mother.

Mr San was described as a hard working, loyal man who never did any harm by his family. ” The San family will never stop grieving for the loss of their much-loved innocent son and brother.” heard from the court. His closed friend said the loss of Mr San had destroyed the family.

Reid allegedly picked on Mr San’s vehicle just because it is a Smart car. Lord Matthews thought the teenager’s behaviour was “unacceptable feral activity”.

The murder is being handled in the High Court in Edinburgh. John Reid will be sentenced next month.

Feature – A Journalist’s Perspective

By Claire Buckie and Emma Bryce

Securing rape convictions in Scotland is notoriously difficult, with a current conviction rate of only 3.9%, according to Rape Crisis Scotland. As second year Napier University journalism students we were somewhat nervous as we went to experience the reality of a live trial at Edinburgh High Court, a trial which turned out to be a rape trial and which we would watch unfold dramatically in front of our eyes as the lives of many individuals changed so suddenly as we sat in silence in the public gallery. This was the first trial we had sat in on and we were there to understand the complexity of court procedures, the particular challenges of court reporting and other journalism skills such as accuracy, objectivity, fairness and balance.

The trial of Ian Matthew Hopton, 42, of Kirkcaldy finished at Edinburgh High Court last Tuesday. The jury of 15 found Hopton guilty by a majority. Hopton has now been remanded in custody awaiting sentencing, which is due to take place on November 26th.

High CourtAfterwards, we spoke to our fellow journalism students about their thoughts on live court reporting. Mairi Thomson, 19, said: “It was beneficial to see what really happens in court, it was also a real insight into the complicated ordeal people appearing there have to go through.”

Having watched some of the evidence given, including police forensic science evidence, we were very apprehensive before the verdict. One student, Nargis Lalee, even said she had butterflies before the jury revealed the verdict. She commented: “I felt that I got too attached to the case”, which of course is easy for anyone to do and as journalists we know that we have to be professional and detached about anything we are reporting.

The trial has also made us reflect on the nature of justice. Since the attack took place last year, the accused had been on bail with a curfew from 8pm and 8am. This also made us think about how much the accused’s life had changed over the past year. He lost his job and had restrictions to when he can and cannot be in public. But then there was the safety and peace of mind of the victim and the wider public to be considered. In each decision the court had taken along the way there were complex factors of many lives to weigh up and consider, none of which could be taken lightly.

We found the rape trial to be very challenging and began to appreciate the issues journalists face when reporting on such a case. We noticed the difficulties of hearing two sides of a very in-depth story without having a biased attitude or pre-conceived assumptions. We also began to appreciate some of the complex issues that come with rape trials. There are many limitations with regards to which evidence should be considered and deliberations into whether a person may be being untruthful. There is also so much evidence for the jury to take into consideration in order to give a fair hearing to both the complainant and the accused. Natural instincts or reflexes must be dismissed and corroborated facts must overrule everything. Even though we have only witnessed this one trial so far, we now both feel that court reporting could be the line of work that we wish to follow, once we graduate. It has definitely opened our eyes to something that we had never thought deeply about, before our experiences this week.

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