Tuesday, 28 February 2012
HMA vs Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie Day 2 Morning
The trial of Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie, who pled not guilty to charges relating to explosive devices allegedly sent through the post to Neil Lennon and others, began its second day this morning at the High Court in Glasgow.
This morning's evidence concentrated on a second suspect parcel, spotted by a postal worker at Kirkintilloch sorting office on Saturday the 26th March 2011. The postal worker, Stephen Bonnar, told the court that when handling the parcel he noticed a nail "sticking out of one side" he then brought this to the attention of his Trade Union representative and the depot manager. The parcel was shown to the court and Mr Bonnar confirmed that this was the one that had concerned him last March. The parcel was addressed to Neil Lennon at the Celtic Football club training ground.
Mr Bonnar was then cross-examined by Donald Findlay QC who is representing Mr McKenzie. Mr Findlay asked Mr Bonnar about the envelope not being "franked" (postmarked) and asked if this was unusual, Mr Bonnar agreed that the parcel would normally be postmarked at the Glasgow Mail sorting centre in Springburn and agreed that it was unusual. Mr Findlay put it to the witness that "to all outward appearances this has never been through the postal system." To which Mr Bonnar agreed adding that this happens "now and again". Mr Findlay then raised the possibility that the parcel may have "never been in a post box" and could have been introduced into the postal system after the stage when it would normally be postmarked. Mr Bonnar agreed that this was possible.
The second witness of the morning was Mr Bonnar's depot manager Kim Riddoch. She described phoning the post office's security team and, on their advice, taking the suspect parcel to an open area away from the building. She then called the police. The Advocate Depute asked the witness about the lack of a postmark on the envelope and Ms Riddoch confirmed it should have been postmarked but said that this "can happen". She also confirmed to the court that the package had insufficient postage on it for its weight and size.
Ms Riddoch was then cross examined by Donald Finlay QC. He returned again to the issue of the envelope not being postmarked and discussed with the witness the process that should have happened. He questioned how likely it was that trained post office staff had not only not franked the envelope but had also failed to notice it had insufficient postage for its weight. Mr Findlay suggested that it was possible that the parcel had been put into the mail system after the stage that it was supposed to be postmarked. The witness agreed it was possible.
The court then heard from the first two police officers at the scene, then from the police search officer who decided to open the package as his portable X-ray equipment had developed a fault. Inside they found 43 nails, a small plastic bottle containing a liquid and a digital timing device. The officer, Grant Wilson, told the jury that in his opinion the parcel was not a "viable" explosive device as it lacked a power source. So he had handed the contents to the local division and left the scene.
Mr Findlay then cross examined Officer Wilson. The witness confirmed again that for various reasons he did not think the parcel was a "viable" explosive device. Mr Finday put it to the witness that this device was "No closer to making a bomb that you are of swimming the channel by standing at Dover and staring at France."
The court then adjourned for lunch.