Tony Parsons: 'None of us expected charity cycle would be last time we saw him'

Twin brothers admit attempting to defeat the ends of justice by burying Tony Parsons' body near a farm in Argyll and Bute.

Tony Parsons family speak of heartache after charity cyclist killed and buried in grave on remote Argyll farm Police Scotland

The family of a charity cyclist who was killed and buried in a grave on a remote farm say the last six years have been “heartbreaking”.

Tony Parsons was killed in September 2017 after being struck by a vehicle driven by a drunk driver on the A82 in Argyll and Bute.

Alexander McKellar and his twin brother Robert, who was a passenger in the car, disposed of Mr Parsons’ body in a remote area near a farm at Bridge of Orchy.

His remains were found in January 2021.

In a statement, Mr Parsons’ family said on Wednesday: “Tony was a much-loved husband, dad and grandad. When he said goodbye and set off on his charity cycle from Fort William that Friday, none of us expected it to be the last time we would be able to see or speak to him.

“He loved nothing more than spending time with his grandchildren and whilst doing so he would take part in his passion for fishing and spend time teaching his grandson to fish.

“Tony was a lover of sports and was a keen golfer. He also spent many years involved with rugby at all levels including playing, coaching mini/midi rugby and refereeing.

“Throughout the six years since he went missing and then the subsequent criminal investigation, we had been left with many unanswered questions and it has been heartbreaking for each and every member of the family being unable to get these answers.

“As you can imagine, not knowing what has happened to someone and then the devastating news that we were provided has taken its toll on all of us as a family.

“At last justice has been done and we would like to thank not only the court officials and officers from Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, Forth Valley division and other Police Scotland departments who worked on this case, but all the volunteers and mountain rescue teams who tirelessly searched for him in the earlier stages of the enquiry.

“As a family we would like to request privacy at this time so that we can finally grieve and come to terms with the outcome of the trial and a life without Tony.”

While originally charged with murder, advocate depute Alex Prentice KC announced on Wednesday the charges against the two brothers had been amended.

Alexander (left) and Robert McKellar.Police Scotland

McKellar admitted driving on the A82 at “excess speed and when unfit through alcohol”. His Isuzu D-Max pick-up hit 63-year-old Mr Parsons, who was cycling at the time.

With “reckless disregard” for his actions, he left Mr Parsons by the side of the road “in a remote location during the hours of darkness and in inclement weather”, causing his death.

The charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice, is said to have taken place between September 29, 2017 and January 3, 2021.

Both brothers admitted leaving the site where Mr Parsons had been struck and returning in another vehicle, into which they placed the cyclist along with his bicycle and other belongings.

Tony Parsons was last seen outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.STV News

They moved him to woods in Auch Estate, before then moving his body to another location which was used to dispose of dead animals.

There, they dug a grave and buried him, as well as disposing of his belongings.

They pretended the damage caused to their car had been due to striking a deer and sought to conceal that Mr Parsons had been struck by it.

After the pleas were accepted on Wednesday, Judge Lord Armstrong said the matter would be continued to the same court on Friday as prosecution and defence agree a joint narrative.

Detective inspector Fraser Spence, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, said: “The brutal and uncaring actions of these men left the family of Mr Parsons distraught, not knowing what had happened to him for many years. It appeared that he had just disappeared into thin air.

“A major policing operation was carried out to try to find Mr Parsons, including searches over a vast and remote area near to where he was last seen.

“Despite exhaustive investigation work carried out by officers and extensive coverage in the media, the brothers did not come forward to disclose what happened.

“In December 2021, information provided to officers led to the brothers being arrested and then charged.

Further searches were carried out and, in January 2021, human remains were found in a remote area of ground close to a farm near the A82. These were identified as Anthony Parsons.”

“Our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Mr Parsons and I hope that the court outcome now gives them some kind of closure.

“I would like to thank the local community for all their help and assistance during this complex investigation and to members of the public who came forward and provided information.

“I would also like to pay tribute to all the officers who worked on this case and to the dedicated work carried out over many years to bring these men to justice.”

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