Mum’s compassion for the brutes who killed her son

Left, Mark Munro hangs his head at the trial. Russell Robertson's mum Margaret, centre, and James Robertson, right. Main image, flowers adorn railings at the canal where Russell died
Left, Mark Munro hangs his head at the trial. Russell Robertson's mum Margaret, centre, and James Robertson, right. Main image, flowers adorn railings at the canal where Russell died

A devastated mother has expressed sympathy with the families of the two men convicted of killing her son saying their lives were ruined too.

Russell Robertson died after falling into the Forth and Clyde Canal following an altercation with Mark Munro (31), from Denny, and James Robertson (27), from Pitlochry, on May 29 last year.

Russell Robertson died after falling into the canal last May

Russell Robertson died after falling into the canal last May

His mum Margaret Girvan, from Bainsford, spoke last Thursday after a jury at the High Court in Glasgow found the pair guilty of his death by throwing him over the canal bridge near the Warehouse nightclub after a night out.

Both men were on trial accused of murdering Russell, but were convicted of the reduced charge of culpable homicide.

In a social media post last Thursday after the verdict, Margaret showed her compassion when she thanked Russell’s friends and her community for the support they have showed her family throughout the “long journey”.

Margaret said: “Today we got justice in court, but there is no celebration in that as three families and friends of all of them were affected.

“As a family we are thankful to all who aided us in this long journey, from kind words to great support at every turn, we are truly grateful.

“I want to thank the police, the fire and water rescue services, courts and all involved in that process.

“Most of all I want to thank my son’s friends, of whom there are to many to name individually, and the local community who also supported us in any way they could.

“The people of Falkirk, especially Bainsford and Langlees, took us to their hearts and we send our thanks to all of you.”

She added: “Russell’s loss will be felt for a long time to come. He was unique to us and we need to learn to live our lives in a different way without him.

“Thank you seems so little in our circumstances, but we do thank you all.”

During the trial Robertson and Munro blamed each other for Russell’s death.

The court 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.”

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’.”

Robertson told the court: “The last time I saw Russell Robertson was when Mark Munro had a hold of him.

“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.”

When I told him no for the second time he threw a punch at me and missed and I did the same. 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’.”

After the fatal incident which occurred at around 3am last year, Russell’s body was pulled from the canal more than an hour later. He had suffered a skull fracture caused by his head hitting a metal stanchion as he fell.

The court heard that he would have been unconscious when he went into the water.

The court also heard that all three men had been at the Warehouse nightclub in Falkirk and were making their way home when an altercation occurred.

Robertson was approached by Russell and they began fighting and then Munro who had been on the phone became involved.

The two tipped Russell over in the canal and then ran off without a backward glance.

However, Munro tried to portray himself as a hero who tried to save Russell, but the jury did not believe him.

Robertson admitted being in an initial struggle with Russell, but claimed he was walking away towards Falkirk when Russell went into the water.

Nightclub security manager Kevin Gibney told of how he saw Russell disappear off the bridge as he struggled with Munro and Robertson.

Mr Gibney said: “One minute he was there and the next he was gone. The two gentlemen ran across the road.”

Mr Gibney picked out Munro and Robertson to police and they were detained and later charged with murder.

Another eye-witness Cameron Binnie (19) said that he and some friends were waiting at a bus stop near the bridge after a night out at the Warehouse nightclub.

He said it was around 3.20am and they were texting friends and taxi firms trying to get a lift home when he saw three men who he thought were ‘larking about’.

Mr Binnie said: “It looked like play fighting. One of the men had another man in a headlock. I thought it was pals just mucking about.”

The lifeguard said he changed his mind when he saw the two men grab the other man’s legs.

He added: “I just saw them lifting his legs.”

Judge Lady Carmichael deferred sentence on Robertson and Munro until August 23 at the High Court in Edinburgh for background reports and detained both in custody.

Defence counsel will give their pleas in mitigation then.