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Minister and wife other two victims in fatal woods attack

Rev Morris Smith and his wife Jan suffered serious head injuries during an assault.

Birkenhill Woods: Three people were attacked on Monday. STV

A Church of Scotland minister and his wife have been named as the other two victims in an attack in woodland in Moray.

Rev Morris Smith, who is the locum minister for Aberlour Church in Speyside, and his wife Jan, both 70, suffered serious head injuries during an assault at Birkenhill Wood in New Elgin on Monday morning.

A third victim, 83-year-old Frank Kinnis, later died in hospital.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Fatal: Frank Kinnis died in hospital after the attack. STV / Police Scotland

A Church of Scotland spokesperson said: “We can confirm that one of our Church of Scotland ministers and his wife were injured in an incident that occurred at Birkenhill Woods, south of Elgin.

“Both are now in hospital receiving medical treatment. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and also with the family of the man who very tragically died.

“This has been a very distressing event for all those involved and we would ask that the family’s privacy is respected whilst they recover.”

Emergency services arrived at the woodland after receiving a report two men and a woman had been seriously assaulted around 9am.

All three were taken to Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, where Mr Kinnis later died.

Mr and Mrs Smith suffered serious injuries and remain in hospital in a stable condition.

On Tuesday afternoon, superintendent Kate Stephen spoke on behalf of Mr Kinnis’ family, who mourn the loss of a “beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather”.

The family said: “Frank was a doting, warm-hearted and unfailing dependable presence in each of our lives.

“There will also be many fond memories of him among the farming and bowls communities in Elgin, where he was well known and liked.

“We will fondly remember him as he was in life and ask everyone who knew him to make certain that it is these memories of him that endure.

“While the police continue their investigation, we kindly ask that our privacy be respected.”

In response to the incident, police have increased patrols in the vicinity.

Superintendent Stephen added: “Please approach any of our officers if you have any information or if you just want to speak to someone about any concerns that you may have.

“I am acutely aware of the impact this incident has had on the local community, and I include in that my own officers who not only work in the area but many of whom also live in the communities.

“Moray prides itself on being one of the safest places to live which makes this incident all the more tragic.”


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