The trial of two men accused of murdering 16 year old Liam Aitchison at a house in Steinish on November 23rd 2011 continued today (Wednesday).
Johnathan Mackinnon (22) and and Stefan Millar (22) are standing trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
Accident with a knife
This afternoon, a former girlfriend of Johnathan Mackinnon gave evidence and said he had had an accident with a knife on the night the teenager disappeared.
Seventeen year old Amy Burns said she had been going out with Johnathan Mackinnon for about a week at the time and had been spending time with him at his home in Plasterfield.
She said it was not common knowledge that they were in a relationship as she didn’t want her father to find out as she didn’t think he would approve.
She had gone up to his house on the Tuesday night with her friend and Mr Mackinnon was drinking alcohol. She said he had got ‘quite drunk’ but that he ‘was fine’ and had been perfectly happy but there had been an accident.
She said: “He was mucking about with a knife and trying to seem cool, I don’t know. He put the knife down and was rolling a fag and changing the music. I went to move it and it cut his hand open.”
The incident happened before Stefan Millar and Liam Aitchison arrived.
She said he had told her he had the knife because it ‘made him feel safe’. She said it was a meat cleaver and she had first seen it in his room before and that there was another knife. She said he had injured his right hand and was bleeding and he had asked her to bandage it. The blood had dripped on the bed and floor and on his clothes.
Later that night Stefan Millar and Liam Aitchison had arrived and were soaking wet as it was raining outside. Stefan had gone upstairs to get changed and Liam had put a bottle of vodka on the table and had then also gone upstairs to change his clothes, she said.
She left the house with her friend to go home but spoke to Mr Mackinnon later that night as she wanted to make sure he was ok.
Prosecutor Iain McSporran asked how he was when she spoke to him.
In a statement to police she had said he had got angry but said in court this was because he didn’t want to keep their relationship a secret anymore.
She had gone to bed but the next morning found she had several missed calls from Mr Mackinnon between 2:51 and 3:09am. She met up with him the next day and went to his house and she asked Mr Mackinnon why Stefan Millar was coming over that night.
“Johnathan said he needed to speak to him. I asked what he needed to speak about and he wouldn’t tell me,” she said adding he kept saying ‘it doesn’t matter.’
Responding to questioning from defence QC Mr Paterson, she said the next day he was not acting unusually and was ‘just the same as he always was.’
Her friend Christine Hazelton (18) also gave evidence at the trial
Ex-girlfriend also received phone call
In evidence given this morning, Johnathan Mackinnon’s ex-girlfriend Stephanie Flanigan (22) said she had received a phone call from him in the early hours of the morning after Liam disappeared.
Miss Flanigan said she spoke to Mr Mackinnon and he asked her if Liam had made it back to Pemma Maclennan’s house – the house where she was staying for the night with her current boyfriend and where Liam had been expected to stay.
She said it was not unusual for she and Mr Mackinnon to speak to each ‘when they were drunk’. She said he had told her there had been a fight that night with Liam and then they talked about getting back together.
Prosecutor Mr Iain McSporran asked if she could tell where he was phoning from and she said it was from his house as she could hear Stefan Millar in the background and heard him say ‘get off the phone Im trying to sleep im working at six.’
She said Mr Mackinnon had told her that Liam was ‘being a brat’ and that was the reason for the fight. The boys had left Liam walking back to Pemma’s house he told her.
“I was annoyed at him for leaving Liam and I had a go at Johnny for that,” she said.
“I started shouting at him. He laughed at me because he knew it would annoy me.”
She agreed in cross-examination by defence QC Mr Paterson that it was not unusual for her to speak to Johnathan as they had been in a long term relationship and that he had said that Liam ‘was ok’.
She also said she had a missed call from someone the following day from a number she thought was Liam’s because she thought she recognised the last three digits.
She explained that she had become increasingly concerned about Liam in the hours and days that followed and thought of him as ‘a wee brother’ who confided in her a lot.
She said on the night he went missing they had all been at Pemma’s house on McCallum Place and that he had gone out to the Co-op and came back with a bottle of vodka.
Johnathan Mackinnon and Stefan Millar had also been at the house but Mr Mackinnon left earlier and she believed they were all going to his house later.
She had been contacted by Liam later that evening asking for a number. Earlier that afternoon he had returned with a slip of paper with a number on it and had used her phone to call that number. She said she thought it was the number for ‘some Polish guy’.
She agreed in questioning from defence QC Frances McMenamin that Stefan had not wanted to go up to Johnathan’s house because he was working the next day.
Following Liam’s disappearance Miss Flanigan said she also had contact with Stefan Millar. Her mobile phone had been examined as part of the case and text messages between the two were read to the court in which Stefan Millar had stated he had last seen Liam when he left to walk back to Pemma Maclennan’s house.
Foster carer gives evidence
Evidence was also given at the High Court in Glasgow by Liam Aitchison’s former foster carer, 49 year old Catherine Macdonald.
Dr Macdonald who lives in Lochboisdale, South Uist said she had known Liam since he was about nine years old but he had been under her care for a period of three months until December 2010.
She said she had retained contact with Liam for the next year when he moved back with his father and also during some of the two periods when he moved to Lewis.
She had spoken to him following his involvement in a car accident in Lewis at the end of 2011 and also in the days running up to his expected appearance in Stornoway Sheriff Court. She had offered to come to Lewis to support him at his court appearance and he had accepted.
She travelled to Stornoway to meet him the day before but they later agreed to meet at the court the following day.
When Liam didn’t turn up at the court she said she had phoned the mobile phone he had phoned her from but did not manage to get hold of him.
“I was cross with him,” she said. “I assumed he hadn’t had the courage to turn up to court.”
She said she had looked for him but had no way of contacting him and eventually returned home to Uist.
Unable to recall details of conversation
Stephen Macleod (20) from Stornoway also appeared as a witness.
He had been at Stornoway Sheriff Court the day after Liam disappeared and was also appearing at court. In his statement to police he said he had heard a conversation at the court involving the accused Johnathan Mackinnon about someone getting hit – although at his appearance at the High Court he was unable to recall the details.
A discussion between a group of young men in the foyer of Stornoway court that morning took place, he said, but was unable to say if Liam Aitchison’s name had been mentioned.
Defence QC Mr Paterson asked Mr Macleod if he could have made a mistake in his statement to police which he had given three weeks after the incident.
“Probably could have,” he said. “There were so many of us speaking at the same time.”
Both men deny the charges against them. The trial continues before Lord Kinclaven.