LIAM AITCHISON MURDER TRIAL: Closing speeches by the Defence

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The trial of two men accused of murdering 16- year-old Liam Aitchison drew close to an end today (Thursday) with the jury hearing the final two closing speeches from the defence.

Johnathan Mackinnon (22) and Stefan Millar (22) are accused of murdering the teenager at 17 Steinish on November 23rd 2011.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Advocate Depute Mr Iain McSporran presented his closing speech to the jury and today the court heard from Mr Iain Paterson, defence lawyer for Mr Mackinnon and Ms Frances McMenamin QC for Mr Millar.

Mr Paterson said there were ‘enormous gaps’ in this case and that there were ‘more curious aspects than you would find in a curiosity shop’.

He said Mr Mackinnon and Liam Aitchison were friends and that they had been drinking together. He referred to the evidence showing Mr Mackinnon had phoned his ex-girlfriend in the early hours of the morning on the day the Crown allege that he and Stefan Millar had killed Liam.

Mr Paterson asked: “If Johnathan Mackinnon had murdered Liam Aitchison in the early hours of that Wednesday morning why on earth was he on the phone to Stephanie Flannigan not long after saying he had an altercation?"

He said it was ridiculous to say this had been some sort of ‘set up’ but that these were ‘lads trying to arrange a few drinks before they were due in court.’

He said Mr Mackinnon had cut his hand that evening, he said that was a 'stupid thing, idiotic' but ‘it doesn’t make him a murderer.’

He asked why if Mr Mackinnon had committed this brutal murder would he go to a hospital with an injury which had come from a knife and when he had blood on his trousers?

“You just wouldn’t do that, would you?” he said.

In relation to the comments two nurses said Mr Mackinnon had made at Western Isles Hospital when he attended to have his hand seen to, about his mother thinking he should be in a mental institute, Mr Paterson said they needed to be looked at in context. It was two o’clock in the morning and he had woken his mother to get her to take him to the hospital and ‘any mother in Scotland’ would think that in those circumstances.

He said in the murder investigation a search of Mr Mackinnon’s home in Plasterfield had found ‘nothing which was incriminating against Mr Mackinnon’.

Regarding the identification of Mr Mackinnon’s blood in the room in the house where Liam’s body was found, Mr Paterson said there could be an explanation for that.

He said Mr Mackinnon had told police in his statement he had been to that house before and evidence from the Forensic scientist had confirmed that blood stains could not be aged and so they could not tell when that blood had arrived there. He also said evidence from witness Jonathan Nape had been that Mr Mackinnon had potentially cut himself at the house some years ago.

He also said that no trace of Mr Mackinnon’s blood had been found outside the living room of 17 Steinish and given that his hand was bleeding on the night in question, there was no evidence of his blood dripping 'on the way out, on the door, nothing.'

He said the pathology evidence in this case had ‘undermined the Crown case’ given that the pathologist Professor Busuttil had concluded it was ‘highly unlikely’ Liam had died on November 23rd based on the progress of rigor mortis and the lack of signs of decomposition.

He said the pathology evidence and also that of the Forensic scientist was 'extremely important' as was the evidence from taxi driver Donald John Macrae who had said Liam had been sleeping in the house at 17 Steinish.

He said there was no evidence that Mr Mackinnon had been at 17 Steinish on November 23rd and the only evidence the Crown had proved was that Liam Aitchison did not stay at Pemma Maclennan’s house in November 23rd.

Mr Paterson told how prosecutors had to prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that the accused were involved in the murder.

He said every question had been answered with a piece of evidence that 'pointed to the innocence' of Mr MacKinnon and asked the jury to acquit him of the murder.

A further report of Stefan Millar's defence lawyer's closing speech will be added later this evening.

Both men deny the charges against them.