Man 'murdered stranger by throwing her from pier into water'

Jacob Foster allegedly killed Charmaine O'Donnell by throwing her into the water at Helensburgh Pier.

Man goes on trial accused of murdering stranger by throwing her from Helensburgh pier into water Google Maps

A man accused of murdering a stranger by throwing her from a pier into water claimed he was “going away for a long time”.

Jacob Foster, 29, allegedly killed Charmaine O’Donnell on April 23, 2021.

The crime is said to have happened at Helensburgh Pier in the town’s West Clyde Street in Argyll and Bute.

Jurors heard Ms O’Donnell, 25, died due to severe neck injuries and drowning.

Foster went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday.

He denies murder and his lawyers have lodged a special defence of diminished responsibility due to an “abnormality of mind” at the time.

Ms O’Donnell’s friend Caitlin McTaggart, 25, gave evidence to the court on Wednesday. 

The pair – who had known each other since they were teenagers – had travelled to Helensburgh due to the good weather that day.

But, Ms McTaggart recalled: “I had wanted to go to the Campsies where there is a waterfall.

“She said ‘no’ because she would have ended up in the water basically.”

The women arrived at Helensburgh Pier and eventually got chatting to three men fishing.

Foster and another man were also nearby. 

Ms McTaggart told jurors neither she nor Ms O’Donnell knew him although it appeared he was trying to get involved in their conversation.

The witness recalled then later hearing a “commotion”.

She said “somebody” got “thrown” over the railings or barrier at the pier.

Ms McTaggart did not initially know who it was, but a person shouted: “That’s your pal.”

She then peered over the edge and spotted Ms O’Donnell.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked her: “Where was she?”

Ms McTaggart said: “In the water.”

The witness said Foster was still near standing at the pier when she looked about.

Mr Prentice asked: “Did you say anything to Jacob?”

Ms McTaggart replied: “I was screaming at him to help her. He just kept saying: ‘What have I done? I have taken it too far this time. I am going away for a long time’.”

Ms McTaggart dialled 999 to get her friend help, but Ms O’Donnell did not survive.

Stephen Cairns was one of the men fishing that day.

He remembered speaking to the young women and Foster also being there.

The 42-year-old told jurors Ms O’Donnell had been standing at railings at one stage.

He then added: “I turned around and saw the accused pushing the girl over the railing.

“He pushed her with both hands.”

The witness added Ms O’Donnell had been facing the water at the time.

Mr Prentice said: “So, with her back to Jacob, who then pushed her with both hands?”

Mr Cairns replied: “Yes. It was just carnage after that.”

He recalled seeing Ms O’Donnell in the water with blood coming from her head.

The murder charge claims Foster picked up the 25-year-old, carried her to a barrier before pushing or throwing the woman.

It is said this caused Ms O’Donnell to strike the “pier structure” or another rough surface and the water below.

The indictment alleges this led Ms O’Donnell to “ingest” water and that she was left so severely injured, she died.

The trial, before judge Lord Fairley, continues.

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