The trial of two men accused of murdering Liam Aitchison on November 23rd 2011 continued today (Monday) with the court hearing the remainder of evidence from Liam’s former girlfriend Ashley Macdonald who said she wanted ‘justice for Liam’.
Johnathan Mackinnon and Stefan Millar - both 22 - are accused of murdering the 16-year-old at a house in Steinish.
Miss Macdonald (17) was adamant in cross examination by the defence today that she had last seen Liam Aitchison on November 17th or 18th and not November 25th as was recorded in her numerous statements to police.
She was asked about her relationship with Liam and said that they had been boyfriend and girlfriend in the week before he disappeared and she was not aware that he was in a relationship with anyone else.
She was questioned by Mr Paterson, defence lawyer, on when she had changed her mind as to when she had last seen Liam. She said she couldn't remember.
Mr Paterson pointed out that in her statements to police, she was sure that it had been the 25th and that if that was the case, Johnathan Mackinnon had been in prison at that time and could have not committed the murder.
“You were clear as today is Monday that you saw Liam on Friday the 25th of November,” he said. “That is the truth, isn’t it?” he asked. “No, it’s not,” she replied. I got my dates mixed up.”
She said she had been very upset after hearing that Liam’s body had been found and was in a ‘bad state’ at the time.
Miss Macdonald broke down as she recalled the aftermath of finding out Liam was dead.
Mr Paterson questioned why there was no record of her changing her mind about the dates in the police records and why there was no reference to her being drunk in the log book records at the care facility where she was staying, as she said she had been on the night she had last seen him.
She said she thought she had told police about the mistake over the dates but couldn’t remember and said she had gone out of her way to hide any signs of her drinking from the facility staff.
“Did somebody put you up to this?” asked Mr Paterson on her change of mind over the dates.
“No,” she replied. “I’m entirely sure that nobody has told me to say anything.”
Mr Paterson pointed out that there was no record of her telling police, the staff at the care facility, the Procurator Fiscal or anyone that she had been mistaken about the date she had last seen Liam.
She said on the night she last saw Liam she had been out with her friend Jean Anne McLaughlin.
Mr Paterson said the records from the care facility showed that Miss McLaughlin had been off the island on the 17th and 18th and had only returned on Saturday the 19th.
In further questioning she said she had seen Liam for the last time when she was at a bus stop at the corner of Goathill Road. She said she had told him to leave her alone as long as he was hanging around with a group of people she didn’t approve of.
Defence QC Frances McMenamin asked Miss Macdonald if Liam Aitchison had been her boyfriend just the week before he disappeared and also whether she had sneaked him into her room at the facility she was staying in. She said that was true.
Prosecutor Iain McSporran, who had called Miss Macdonald as a witness, added at the end of questioning that he had been surprised by her change of dates.
“Do you think it would be justice for Liam if innocent men were convicted of his murder?” he asked. “Let us be quite clear,” he added. “If Liam Aitchison was alive and well on November 25th these men are completely innocent of his murder.”
He said that he was suggesting that she was not a person as of November 2011 who could be relied upon and when she told police that she had seen Liam on the 25th of that month, she was not capable of being relied on.
“If Liam Aitchison was alive and well on November 25th, these men should walk free,” he said.
Both men deny the charges against them. The trial continues before Lord Kinclaven.
Further reports of today's proceedings will appear later this evening.