Accused admits fighting but not murder

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A murder accused admitted fighting with Russell Robertson, but denied killing him by throwing him into a canal.

James Robertson (27) told the High Court in Glasgow that Russell was alive when he last saw him.

He said: “The last time I saw Russell Robertson was when Mark Munro had a hold of him.”

Munro (31), from Denny and Robertson (27), from Pitlochry, deny murdering 27-year-old Russell from Falkirk, by pushing him over bridge railings at Bainsford Bridge, Falkirk, on May 29 last year, and causing him to fall into the Forth and Clyde Canal.

In evidence, Robertson told his defence counsel Tony Graham that he and Munro, who was his best friend, had been out at the Warehouse nightclub and left around 3am to find a taxi.

Robertson, who at the time worked for Tesco and also as a self-employed delivery driver, said: he was happy as he left the nightspot and added: “I was jumping about dancing and singing Falkirk football songs.”

He said he was standing at one side of Bainsford bridge and Munro was on the opposite side phoning.

Robertson told the court that Russell approached him, adding: “He came up to me and said ‘you need to go down by Robinsons Hire Drive.’ I said ‘I don’t need to go anywhere. I’m going home’.

“That’s when he started to fight with me.”

Mr Graham asked: “Did you know what he was talking about,” and Robertson replied: “I had no idea and to this day I have no idea. I could tell he was drunk or merry.”

The defence counsel then asked Robertson if he was angry about this and he replied: “Not initially, but he was angry. When I told him no for the second time he threw a punch at me and missed and I did the same.”

Robertson told the jury that he and Russell then began wrestling and grabbed each other in a headlock.

He added: “No blows landed. It was like a comical fight.”

The court was told that the incident ended with Russell on top of Robertson.

Robertson said: “Mark pulled the guy off me and pushed him away. He put his arms round the guy and pushed him in the chest.

“I just picked myself up. Russell was coming towards us and Mark grabbed him by the shirt. I said to Mark ‘We need to get out of this’.

“I was aware the police were everywhere. The police were 100 yards away outside the Warehouse. I didn’t want to get lifted because I’d been fighting.

“That’s when I left. The last I saw of Russell Robertson Mark was holding him and he was saying: ‘He’s not getting away with this’.”

Robertson was asked how he felt when he listened to his former friend blame him for the murder and replied: “I was annoyed, frustrated and angry because he was my best pal for years. It could bring a man to tears that stuff he was saying.”

Mr Graham said to Robertson: “It will be suggested to you that you up-ended Russell Robertson over into the canal,” and he replied: “That’s not true.”

Robertson was then asked: “Did you have any involvement in that,” and said: “No, nothing.”

The trial before judge Lady Carmichael continues.