Monday, 27 February 2012

HMA vs Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie Day 1 Morning

The trial of the two men accused of sending improvised explosive devices to Neil Lennon, Trish Goodman, Paul McBride QC and to the offices of  Cairde Na Heireann began in the High Court in Glasgow today.

Separated from the public gallery by glass screens, Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie watched as the presiding Judge Lord Turnbull cautioned the jury of 11 women and three men to ignore any publicity about the case they may have heard and to decide the case purely on the evidence presented to them. As there are no opening statements in Scottish courts the Advocate Depute, Mr Tim Niven Smith, then proceeded to call his first witness, Sheila Webb.

Ms Webb, a "Scene Examiner" for the Scottish Police authority, testified to the accuracy of pictures she had taken of two postal boxes, one in Kilwinning and one in Saltcoats, two towns in Ayrshire. Neither of the defence advocates, Gordon Jackson QC for Mr Muirhead and Donald Findlay QC chose to cross examine and Ms Webb stood down from the stand.

The second witness of the morning was Andrew Brown (27) as postal worker, who on the 4th March 2011 emptied the postal box in Gladstone Rd, Saltcoats. Mr Brown described finding a brown "Jiffy" parcel addressed by hand to "Neil Lennon, Celtic FC, Celtic Park, Glasgow." Mr Brown was then shown a parcel by the Advocate Depute which he confirmed was the one he had collected that day.

Mr Brown told the court that he was suspicious of the parcel partly because of who it was addressed to and also because it "just didn't feel right." Asked about this further the witness stated that the package had sharp edges. Mr Brown also agreed that he "followed the football" and was aware of an incident between Rangers coach Ally McCoist and Celtic manager Neil Lennon at an Old Firm game a few days previously. With this in mind Mr Brown took the parcel to Saltcoats sorting office and gave it to his line managers Andrew Easton and Mark McGuire. The defence again declined to cross examine the witness who was allowed to leave the court.

Mr Easton was the next witness. He described the parcel as feeling like a "bag of nails"  he, and his colleague Mark McGuire decided to call the police as "they are the experts" he then cleared the office while the awaited for the police to arrive. Mr McGuire himself then gave evidence telling the jury that the parcel in question was "pretty weighty" and that he could see nails protruding from it. 

The next witness in a busy morning was Sgt James Reid a Strathclyde police officer of 22 years service who arrived at the sorting office to supervise the police response to the incident. He also described the package as having nails protruding from it and made the decision to evacuate the sorting office, create a 100 metre cordon around it as he had a "duty of care" to the public. He also called on Strathclyde police support units. 

Sgt Reid told the jury that Inspector Brian Ferguson from the force's support unit arrived and took the decision to open the package, which he did with a small knife. On opening the envelope  was found to contain around 100 nails, a small quantity of a "putty like substance" a timing device and a piece of wire. On examination the police team decided that this was a "hoax device" and allowed staff to return to the sorting office. 

As the defence again declined to cross-examine, the witness was allowed to step down and the court adjourned for lunch. 

James Doleman


  1. well done James - a good report on proceedings

  2. Good report keep up the good work