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Court / Murder trial hears from forensic expert

A TRIAL of two people accused of murdering a woman in Shetland has heard from a forensic pathologist who carried out her post mortem.

Leighanne Deboys, 34, told jurors on Friday that Tracy Walker’s jugular vein and carotid artery had been cut in the time before she lost her life.

The High Court in Edinburgh also heard that Walker’s neck had been compressed and that this too would have contributed to her death.

Dr Deboys was giving evidence on the 12th day of proceedings against Ross MacDougall, 32, and Dawn Smith, 29. The pair deny murdering Walker on 30 July 2019 at Ladies Drive in Lerwick.

On Friday Dr Deboys told prosecution lawyer Steven Borthwick that she carried out at a post mortem on Walker’s body in Aberdeen on 1 August last year.

She told the court that Ms Walker’s body had a number of bruises and lacerations.

Dr Deboys told Mr Borthwick that the lacerations had been caused by a weapon.

Speaking about the consequences of some of Tracy Walker’s injuries, Dr Deboys said: “You got to be ready for immediate and skilled surgical intervention to deal with this issue.”

Borthwick asked Dr Deboys to look at a knife which has been lodged as evidence with the Crown.

When he asked Dr Deboys whether the knife could have been the type of weapon to inflict the type of injuries which Walker had sustained, the medic replied: “Yes.”

The jury were also shown a report which Dr Deboys compiled with a colleague.

The cause of death for Ms Walker in the report is stated as being “sharp force injury of the neck and external compression of the neck.”

Prosecutors then closed their case against Mr MacDougall and Mr Smith.

At the conclusion of the Crown case, MacDougall’s lawyer Brian McConnachie QC said his client was pleading guilty to a charge which stated that on 30 July 2019, at 103 Nederdale, in Lerwick, MacDougall took and drove a car without having the consent of its owner.

Judge Lord Uist told MacDougall that he was deferring sentence on him for this charge until Tuesday (1 December).

Borthwick also stated that he was withdrawing a charge against Smith which stated that on 30 July 2019, at Ladies Drive in Lerwick, it is alleged that MacDougall and Smith assaulted a man.

Borthwick said that the Crown was still continuing the prosecution against MacDougall on this charge.

Smith also no longer faces a charge which alleged that that on 30 July 2019, at an address in Lerwick she and MacDougall with ‘intent to impede, obstruct or hinder the course of justice’ asked a man to provide them with an alibi.

The charge also alleged the pair asked the man for 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.”

MacDougall also continues to stand trial on this allegation.

Prosecutors claim that on 30 July 2019 at Ladies Drive, Smith had “without reasonable excuse or lawful authority” a knife.

The second charges alleges that on the same date at the same location, MacDougall and Smith assaulted Tracy Walker.

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

The two accused have pleaded not guilty to the charges remaining on the indictment.

The trial continues on Tuesday.

Court report provided by Edinburgh Courts Press Services