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Court / Judge hands life sentences for ‘gruesome’ Lerwick murder

Ross MacDougall and Dawn Smith were jailed for life. Photos: Police Scotland

THE TWO islanders convicted of stabbing Lerwick woman Tracy Walker were handed life sentences at the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday morning.

Ross MacDougall, 32, will have to serve a minimum of 23 years while co-accused Dawn Smith, 29, will spend at least 20 year behind bars.

Following a 15-day trial at the High Court both were found guilty on Thursday of murdering 40-year-old Tracy Walker in July last year.

The court heard how the pair targeted Tracy Walker because they needed money to buy drugs knowing she was carrying £100 that she intended to use to buy drugs herself.

The pair confronted Tracy and MacDougall struck her on the head with a rock before strangling her and repeatedly stabbing her in the throat. He cut her carotid artery and jugular vein during the horrific assault.

Jurors heard how following the attack, Smith stood for 10 minutes and watched her victim die before she and MacDougall left the scene and took a ride in her co-accused’s car.

On Friday, ahead of sentencing judge Lord Uist heard of MacDougall and Smith’s long lists previous convictions.

Passing sentence, Lord Uist said: “You have both been convicted by the jury of the shocking and gruesome murder of Tracy Walker, an innocent 40-year-old woman in Lerwick on 30 July last year.

“In an attempt to rob her of money so that you could buy controlled drugs, you carried out a savage attack on her which involved striking her with stones, manual compression of her neck and her striking her repeatedly with a knife.

“The worst injury which she suffered and which caused her death was a 13 centimetre gaping incised wound extending horizontally across her neck completely transecting the right jugular vein and the right internal carotid artery.

“You Ross Ian MacDougall are now 32 years of age. You have a criminal record consisting of 10 separate court appearances.

“Your criminal record – particularly your conviction for assault to severe injury and danger of life and your conviction for this matter show you are an evil man.”

Lord Uist then told Smith: “You Dawn Smith are now 29-years of age. You have a criminal record mainly for crimes of dishonesty consisting of 11 separate court appearances.

“You encouraged or instigated your co-accused to commit this murder and supplied him with a knife which he used.

“Your guilt is at least as great as his.”

The two accused were sent to prison on the 16th day of proceedings. They had denied murdering Tracy Walker at Ladies Drive, Lerwick.

As well as being convicted for murder, Smith was also convicted of illegal knife possession.

MacDougall was also convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

On Friday, defence advocate Brian McConnachie QC told Lord Uist that his client MacDougall had a long-standing drug problem and had experienced a troubled childhood.

McConnachie said that MacDougall was trying to stay away from drugs in the days and hours before he murdered Tracy Walker.

McConnachie also said MacDougall maintains he has no recollection of the attack.

Paul Nelson, for Smith, said she has a young daughter who is being cared for by her grandparents.

He added: “The reason for that is her problem with drugs.”

After the two were led to the cells, Lord Uist thanked jurors for their service and told them they had sat through a “rather harrowing” trial.

Court report by James Mulholland of Edinburgh Courts Press Services