Witness tells of accused looking ‘stressed’

By James Mulholland

A witness told the High Court in Edinburgh how a man accused of murder looked “stressed” when he asked for a change of clothes after being involved in a “fight”.

Kyle Swannie, 24, told the jury on Thursday how Ross MacDougall, 32, looked “unrestful” when he came to his home in Lerwick in the early hours of 30th July last year.

The court heard Mr Swannie say MacDougall was in the company of 28-year-old Dawn Smith during the visit.

Both MacDougall and Smith are standing trial on a charge of murdering a woman, Tracy Walker, that day.

Mr Swannie, also of Lerwick, told the court that MacDougall – who had visited the property on a number of previous occasions – didn’t appear to be acting normally when he turned up at around 5am.

Mr Swannie said: “He looked stressed. He was just kinda frantic. He was usually chirpy and happy.”

When prosecution lawyer Steven Borthwick asked Mr Swannie to explain how MacDougall was behaving, he replied: “Unrestful. He couldn’t rest if that makes sense. He couldn’t sit still. He was pacing about.

“I knew something was up. It was a very weird time to be coming to my door for a start.”

Mr Swannie was giving evidence on the seventh day of proceedings against MacDougall and Smith, who both deny murdering Ms Walker and four other charges.

Mr Swannie told the prosecution lawyer that he had been sleeping when he heard knocking on his bedroom window. He had also heard knocking on his door and heard someone calling his name.

The witness told Mr Borthwick that when he opened the door, he found MacDougall and Smith.

He said that MacDougall wanted to come into his house.

Mr Swannie added: “He said he needed a change of clothes. He said he had been in a fight and he needed a change of clothes.”

He told the court that he agreed to the request and gave MacDougall jogging bottoms and a Hugo Boss Polo T-shirt.

He also told the jury that he gave MacDougall a Tesco carrier bag which he used to place his other clothes in.

Mr Swannie then told the court that later the same day, he was about to start performing community service by cleaning a beach outside of Lerwick.

However, he learned that there had been a “killing” and he informed his community service supervisor that he had to contact the police.

Describing the conversation he had with the supervisor, Mr Swannie said: “I said ‘there’s been a killing and you need to go back to the town because I think the people were in my house’.”

When Mr Borthwick asked him why he wanted to return from his community service, Mr Swannie replied: “I wanted to get into town to give my statement to the police because they would soon be looking for me.”

The court heard that Mr Swannie then spoke to police.

Prosecutors claim that on 30th July 2019, at Ladies Drive, Smith had “without reasonable excuse or lawful authority” a knife. It is stated that was “contrary to the Criminal Law (Consolidation) Scotland Act 1995.”

The second charge alleges that on the same date at the same location, MacDougall and Smith assaulted Ms Walker and inflicted “blunt force trauma to her head by means unknown”.

It’s also alleged that the two accused compressed her neck with their hands and that they struck her repeatedly on the neck and hand with “a knife or similar instrument”.

Prosecutors claim that the two accused attempted to rob her of money and that they “did murder her”.

The same day at Ladies Drive it is alleged that MacDougall and Smith assaulted Gary Latham and brandished a knife at him.

It is claimed they demanded “money and drugs” from him before pursuing him. The two accused then allegedly kicked the door to Mr Latham’s house and prosecutors claim they did this with “the intent to rob him”.

The fourth charge states that on 30th July 2019, at Bakland, Lerwick, the two with “intent to impede, obstruct or hinder the course of justice” did ask Kyle Swannie to provide them with an alibi, a “change of clothing and a bag”.

It is claimed that they put clothing which they had been wearing into the bag and disposed of it by “means unknown” to the prosecutor.

The indictment states that they carried out the alleged action to “conceal and destroy evidence” in respect of the murder allegation and to “avoid detection” with “intent to pervert the course of justice” and that they did “attempt to pervert the course of justice”.

The fifth charge alleges that on 30th July 2019, at 103 Nederdale, Lerwick, MacDougall took and drove a car without having the consent of its owner. Prosecutors claim his alleged actions breached the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Both MacDougall and Smith have entered not guilty pleas to all charges on the indictment.

The trial before judge Lord Uist continues.


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