Jurors urged to find men guilty of murdering Russell Robertson

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A prosecutor urged a jury to find two men guilty of murdering a stranger by flipping him into the Forth & Clyde Canal.

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

The High Court in Glasgow has heard that Russell’s body was found in the water more than an hour later.

Both accused are blaming each other. Munro says he was trying to help Russell after Robertson pushed him over the railings. Robertson claims he initially struggled with Russell, but had left by the time he went over the bridge.

Two eye witnesses told the court they saw the pair put Russell over the bridge.

In his closing speech to the jury advocate depute Alan Cameron told them: “I invite you to return guilty verdicts on each accused for murder.”

Mr Cameron said: “The accused’s account of what happened wildly contradict each other. They can’t both be telling the truth.

“I say both are lying because they want to avoid the consequences of their actions which led to the death of Russell Robertson.”

Mr Cameron told the jurors: “You can be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt they intentionally forced him from the bridge and walked away without a backward glance.”

Defence QC Derek Ogg, representing Munro, said: “That night what Mark Munro wanted to do was go home. He is described as mellow and his co-accused as happy that night.

“Then there is an incident which must have lasted for less than a minute and everything changes.

“A person loses his life and two others face the prospect of a conviction for the most serious crime.”

Mr Ogg said there were few eye witnesses considering how busy it was that night and urged the jury to consider carefully what those they heard from claimed to have seen and how far away they were at the time.

He said Munro said he was trying to help Russell by grabbing him as he fell and swinging him onto the embankment.

That movement caused Russell to hit his head on a metal stanchion under the bridge causing the fractured skull which killed him.

Mr Ogg told the jurors: “If you accept the reason he grabbed Russell Robertson and swung him was to help him then he is not guilty of anything and you must acquit him.”

The QC added that if the jury instead believed Munro had assaulted Russell then they should convict him of culpable homicide, rather than murder.

The trial before judge Lady Carmichael continues.