Killer driver led girlfriend to shallow grave where he buried cyclist

Alexander and Robert McKellar disposed of Tony Parsons' body in a country estate in 2017.

Killer driver led girlfriend to shallow grave where he buried charity cyclist Tony Parsons Police Scotland

A drunk driver who killed a charity cyclist would never have been caught if he hadn’t confessed to his girlfriend.

Drink-driver Alexander McKellar led his partner to the shallow grave in which he had buried Tony Parsons after hitting him with his car on the A82 near Bridge of Orchy in 2017.

McKellar and his twin brother Robert took Mr Parson’s body to the nearby Auch Estate where they left him in a a peat bog used to dispose of animal carcases.

In November 2020, Alexander was asked by his girlfriend if there was “anything in his past” that would affect their future together.

Aerial view of Auch estateCrown Office

He confessed to killing the 63-year-old cyclist and took the woman to the burial site.

Upon seeing the site, Alexander’s girlfriend dropped a Redbull can as a marker and then told police.

Officers found the Redbull can and Mr Parson’s body alongside animal remains.

Red bull can at deposition site Crown Office

Mr Parsons had travelled from his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, in September 2017 to Fort William and was intending on returning south as part of a charity bike ride.

He planned to ride through the night to complete the 100 mile journey.

Mr Parsons initially headed north by train on the morning of September 29, 2017.

He sent a couple of messages around 5pm to his wife Margaret later that afternoon confirming he had arrived and checking how she was.

Mr Prentice: “That was the last contact she had with her husband.”

Alexander (left) and Robert McKellar.Police Scotland

The court heard Mr Parsons made a stop off at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel around 11pm that night – where the McKellar brothers were also staying with a German hunting party.

The owner of the hotel tried to persuade Mr Parsons to book a room due to the awful weather conditions.

But, after a coffee, the grandfather continued on his cycle.

Mr Parsons was the on the A82 when he was struck at speed by the Isuzu pick-up driven by Alexander, who had been drinking alcohol at the hotel, on his way home to Auch Estate.

The car that collided with Tony Parsons.Crown Office

Mr Prentice: “Alexander McKellar ascertained that Mr Parsons – though severely injured – was still alive.

“He did not call the emergency services preventing any prospect of him receiving treatment.”

The twins fled, dumped their phones before returning to the scene in a Toyota.

They then put Mr Parsons’ body and his bike in the vehicle and drove to the Auch Estate leaving him overnight.

“After attending with a shooting party the next day, the body was taken to a peaty area of the estate,” Mr Prentice said.

“A grave was dug and the body placed in it and covered.

The car used to transport the body of Mr Parsons.Crown Office

“The personal possessions of Mr Parsons were also disposed of.

“Such was the location that if Alexander McKellar had not disclosed where the grave was, the remains are unlikely to have ever been found.”

Mr Parsons was reported missing on October 2, 2017.

The large scale hunt for him included his son Mike appearing on BBC’s Crimewatch show appealing for help to find him.

In a clip played in court on Friday, Mike said: “We cannot move on. We cannot say our final goodbyes.”

Photo issued by Police Scotland of Tony Parsons from Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire.PA Media

In August 2018, police received an anonymous letter asking them to pay attention to “the twins” who live in Bridge of Orchy as they had been in the hotel the night Mr Parsons went missing.

In the following months, officers spoke to the McKellars twice. In June 2020, they confirmed being in the hotel with a hunting party that night, but had not seen the cyclist.

The following November, Alexander’s new girlfriend asked him about his past and he confessed to her.

“He said that he had been panicking,” Mr Prentice said.

He described leaving the victim at the side of the road, going to the Auch Estate with his brother and returning in a Toyota pick-up.

The body was initially hidden in woods before being disposed of in a further “secluded area”.

He said they destroyed Mr Parsons’ phone and SIM card and burned his backpack, wallet and cycling helmet.

His yellow bike was also hidden near a waterfall.

The badly damaged Isuzu was repaired “by a friend of a friend” at a garage in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, with a repair bill of up to £3,000.

After the woman alerted police, the search of site began on December 30, 2020.

The Red Bull can was still present and the description of other landmarks were consistent with what was found at the site by officers, Mr Prentice said.

Police enlisted the help of soil expert Professor Lorna Dawson, whose skills have previously help snare a number of killers including World’s End murderer Angus Sinclair.

She attended the site where Mr Parsons was thought to be and confirmed it as a “target area for investigation”.

During the dig, investigators initially discovered a segment of red material, which matched the jacket Mr Parsons had been wearing.

Between January 13 and 14, a body was discovered.

Mr Parsons was found to have suffered “catastrophic” rib, pelvic and spine fractures following the collision.

The rib injuries were considered to be “the most immediate cause of death” due the effect it would have had on his breathing. The victim may also have suffered a collapsed lung.

Mr Prentice said without medical help, Mr Parsons was unlikely to have survived more than 20 to 30 minutes. It was, however, unlikely he would have died instantly.

The quickest emergency medical response in the area that night would have taken around an hour to arrive if assistance had been sought.

As the police probe intensified, a number of witnesses were spoken to including the German hunting group, who had dined with the McKellars at the hotel.

They described how both had been drinking.

It also emerged Alexander had sent texts to his then partner shortly after the collision stating: “Aw hun, I hit a deer in Robert’s pick up tonight. That’s all I needed.”

The McKellars were eventually charged and first appeared in court in December 2021.

The brothers were remanded in custody and are due to be sentenced by judge Lord Armstrong next month.

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