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Thread: Trial: Day 4

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Trial: Day 4

    Police find hotel's kitchen gas torch in deputy manager's home

    POLICE, investigating a suspicious fire at Ackergill Tower, found a self-igniting gas torch at the home of the hotel's deputy manager, accused of starting the fire.

    Officers also recovered a pair of shoes and a woolly hat in a search of the accommodation house in Wick, for staff who work at the hotel, including Brendan McNamara who is on trial.

    Constable Glen Bigham told the jury at Wick Sheriff Court, on the fourth day of the trial, that the shoes and hat smelled of some sort of fuel such as diesel or paraffin. The shoes were found in a bedroom and the hat and torch were located in a cupboard under the stairs.

    The court heard, previously, that the torch had been purchased some time ago, by the hotel's maintenance officer, for use in the kitchen.

    McNamara, 36, denies a charge of fire-raising, on indictment. It is alleged that the fire, in the early hours of January 5, 2014, ignited a carpet, a painting and a quantity of paper, causing extensive damage to the contents of a cellar and smoke damage to the Tower, which was closed for maintenance at the time. The outbreak was quelled by firemen from Wick using breathing apparatus.

    Forensic scientist Richard Valance, 37, stated that he ran tests on the hat and shoes which revealed the presence of a hydro-carbon mix found in commercial fuels such as paraffin and other petrol-based products.

    However, he added that its presence on the brown shoes, could have been "nothing more mundane than shoe polish".

    The defence is expected to open its case today (Friday) It has tabled two special defences.

    The first involves an alibi which claims that McNamara, now living at flat 7, 24 Bailie Terrace, Edinburgh, was in Thurso at midnight on January 4, into the following day and then travelled to Wick with his brother Patrick McNamara and was at the hotel's accommodation in Francis Street when he first learned about the fire.

    The hotel's manageress, Karen Merrick, said the accused arrived at the Tower about 25 minutes after the alarm was raised and she queried his presence. She had been contacted through the hotel's automatic electronic system, but McNamara told her that he too, had got a call.

    Ms Merrick expressed doubt about that, as, she told the court, that once contact is made with the first caller the system is deactivated as there is no need for it to contact anyone else.

    The other defence of incrimination suggests that the fire-raising might have been committed by someone else.

    Last edited by Nwicker60; 08-Jun-17 at 19:40.

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