Accused blames co-accused for Russell death

Russell "Smeegs" Robertson died in Forth and Clyde Canal on May 29, 2016
Russell "Smeegs" Robertson died in Forth and Clyde Canal on May 29, 2016

A murder accused is blaming his co-accused for the death of 27-year-old Russell Robertson in the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Mark Munro (31), from Denny and James Robertson (27), now living in Pitlochry, deny murdering Russell from Falkirk by pushing him over bridge railings at the Bainsford Bridge on May 29 last year and causing him to fall into the canal.

The High Court in Glasgow heard Munro told detectives who interviewed him: “At no point did I assault him. I tried to help him.

“The guy had his back to the bridge railings. At this point James Robertson grabbed the guy at his feet area and flipped him over. He went over the bridge.

“I tried to keep a hold of him, but could not, so he fell. I looked over and saw him on the grass below and did not hear a splash. I looked down and thought he looked alright.”

The jury was played a recording of the police interview in which a prepared statement from Munro was read out by duty solicitor James McLean.

Munro’s statement went on: “I ran after James Robertson. He said, ‘What have I done? What have I done?’ I said, ‘We need to get back’, and he said, ‘No, just keep running’.”

Minutes earlier Munro said that Robertson was “looking for fags off folk” and he was phoning for a taxi.

He added: “I turn round and see James Robertson on the ground wrestling with a man.

“While they were on the ground I went to separate them. I pulled them apart. The other guy went towards the bridge.”

Munro claimed that Robertson high-punched Russell and then shoved him.

He went on: “The man was stumbling back and I had a hold of him to assist him.”

After the statement was read out Munro was advised by his solicitor to maintain his right to silence.

He refused to answer when asked why he did not call an ambulance or try to get help for Russell, whose nickname was Smeegs.

But, Munro then told police he wanted to tell the truth. He said he had tried to calm down Robertson, whom he described a being ‘like an animal,’ and added: “he wasn’t listening to me.”

He was asked by detectives what he saw when he looked over the barrier to the bridge and replied: “He looked all right and I heard him say ooh.”

Munro said he had never seen Russell before that night.

When he was charged with murder Munro told police: “I’m innocent. I did not murder nobody. I tried to help him.”

The jury also heard on Tuesday DNA matching that of Russell was found on the shirts of the two men accused of killing him, according to a forensic scientist.

Emily Service told the court that she had examined the shirts which were worn by murder accused Mark Munro and James Robertson the night Russell died.

The jurors were told the chances of the DNA being from someone else were more than one in a billion.

The trial before judge Lady Carmichael continues.