A man who killed an underage schoolgirl after buying her drink and abandoning her at a city beauty spot on a winter’s night has been jailed for 38 months.
Ewan Fulton bit Mhari O’Neill on her breast and throttled her before leaving her in an intoxicated state on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill where her body was found by a dog walker.
Fulton, then aged 18, had met the 15-year-old through social media site Yubo, which he later described as being like “Tinder for teenagers”.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that even before he met Miss O’Neill on the day of the attack he sent her a message that read: “It is freezing today, should have worn my pimp coat”.
In a later message, he wrote: “Ur gonna freeze to death OMG.”
After Miss O’Neill was found dead he told police that he had met her online and was aware that she was 15-years-old.
He said he had bought a large bottle of vodka for them to share after he travelled to Edinburgh from Livingston to meet up with her.
Fulton said after some heavy petting and splitting the drink about 50/50 between them Miss O’Neill was “obviously drunk”.
He told police: “It was like she had lost all motor skills, she was too drunk to do anything.”
He said she was so intoxicated she kept falling off a bench and could not walk.
He claimed he was starting to panic and knew he needed to get the last train home. He maintained that he told her several times he was leaving but did not get a response as she was “unable to speak”.
The following day the shop worker sent her a text stating: “Are you alive?”
He said he was “freaking out” because he had not heard from her and meant ‘talk to me when you are alive’.
Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC told the court at an earlier hearing that pathologists had decided that on balance they considered that hypothermia, with intoxication, was the most probable mechanism of the Portobello High School pupil’s death.
Fulton, now aged 20, admitted killing Miss O’Neill, who died on December 7 or 8 in 2018, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh last month.
He took part in sexual activity with the schoolgirl, compressed her neck, culpably and recklessly endangered her health and life, and exposed her to risk of injury and death.
He provided her with alcohol, which resulted in her becoming intoxicated and incapable of looking after herself.
Fulton, of Livingston, West Lothian, abandoned the girl “in a remote and exposed location” in a state of partial undress without means to contact anyone and failed to seek help for her.
The culpable homicide charge stated that he behaved with “utter disregard” for the consequences of his actions towards her.
Fulton was jailed on Thursday and placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.
Judge Norman McFadyen told him: “You had no justification for believing that a severely intoxicated child could safely be abandoned in this remote part of Edinburgh on a cold, wet and windy night.
“There were many things you could have done. You essentially did nothing for her, you panicked and left.
“There was nothing you could do without assistance and you were not willing to get any assistance for Mhari when she was at her most vulnerable.
“I accept that you bitterly regret what happened,
“I consider, because of the gravity of the offence, a custodial sentence is the only appropriate sentence.”
Following Fulton’s sentencing, detective inspector Susan Balfour said: “My thoughts continue to be with Mhari’s family and friends who have shown considerable strength over the past two and a half years while this investigation and proceedings were ongoing.
“Ewan Fulton showed a disregard for Mhari’s safety, obtaining and consuming alcohol with her and then leaving her alone on Calton Hill, an isolated location while she was in a vulnerable condition.
“I would like to thank Mhari’s family, the local communities, media and our partners who assisted with our investigation, which has been challenging, complex and prolonged. As a direct result of our combined efforts, Fulton will have to face the consequences of his actions.
“Police Scotland is committed to protecting our young people from risk and harm and we work closely with partners to ensure the safety and wellbeing of communities across Scotland.
“If you have any concerns about public safety or criminality, please contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to report these to us so we can investigate appropriately.”
A man has been left at “death’s door” by “broken” drug addiction services in Glasgow, a charity has said.
Jamie has struggled to get the help he needs and said he was told he was “not appropriate” for rehab.
Annemarie Ward, chief executive of addiction charity Favor UK, became Jamie’s named advocate after the 41-year-old became desperate.
“He was begging, he was at death’s door weighing about seven-and-a-half or eight stone,” she told STV News.
“I started going through the process of advocating for him. That was seven or eight weeks ago and since then we have hit brick wall after brick wall.”
“The system is broken, there is no doubt about that.”
Annemarie Ward, chief executive of Favor UK
Jamie grew up in the care system and took part in the Independent Care Review after suffering from extreme PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of sexual abuse.
He first became addicted to heroin in his 20s and has been on and off methadone since.
Ms Ward said that Friday was the first time Jamie met his Glasgow Addiction Services case manager, despite asking for rehab for two years.
“They are acting with impunity across the UK. There is no set standard or legislative guidelines or regulatory bodies that they have to answer to. The system is broken, there is no doubt about that,” Ms Ward said.
Favor UK wants the provision of addiction and rehabilitation services underpinned by law.
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross raised Jamie’s case in parliament on Thursday and asked Nicola Sturgeon to take “real action”.
He said: “He has been trying to get into rehab for two years but keeps hearing he is ‘not appropriate’ for rehab.
“This man is at death’s door. Today he is having a mental health assessment. Just another hoop he has to jump through because he wants to get better.
“His only hope it seems is private rehab because of a charity’s generosity. This individual case is shocking. But it is being repeated all over our country.”
The Tories will publish a draft Right to Recovery Bill before parliament’s summer recess next week. The legislation would give drug users a right to residential rehab treatment – “a right in law to the treatment they need”, Ross said.
The First Minister said the Bill could be fast-tracked through Holyrood, like Covid-legislation, if there was consensus across the chamber.
She said: “I will look with an open mind at any proposals that are brought forward, including proposals for legislation.”
Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had “failed in aspects of drugs policy” but was “determined to get it right”.
The Tartan Army have started making their way south for Friday’s crunch Euro 2020 clash with England.
Scotland take on the group favourites at Wembley in their second game after Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Czech Republic.
Thousands of Scottish fans are expected to make the journey despite pleas from politicians including London Mayor Sadiq Kahn to stay away if they don’t have match tickets or a safe place to watch the game.
Fans have been congregating in the city throughout Thursday, with Scotland songs and chants heard throughout the day and fans streamed in through rail, road and air.
Confidence levels among the tartan faithful have been building as the game draws closer.
Steve Clarke’s men go into the game knowing they need to take at least a point to keep any realistic hopes of reaching the last 16 alive.
England, on the other hand, know a win against the Scots would guarantee them a place in the knock-out stages after their opening game victory over Croatia.
Several train services between Scotland and London have been sold out with fans eager to attend.
Wembley will only be at 25% capacity for the game, meaning many loyal supporters will have been left unable to get a ticket.
Pubs and bars will also be limited in the number of people they can let in, with most completely booked out weeks ago.
Scotland, who are competing in their first major men’s tournament since 1998, have never qualified for the knockout stages in ten previous attempts.
Group D rivals Croatia and Czech Republic also play on Friday with a game at Hampden.
Glasgow McVitie’s workers have received redundancy notices as a fight goes on to save the factory.
Pladis, the global company that owns the Tollcross site, said the closure would mean almost 500 people’s jobs were threatened and formally issued redundancies on Thursday.
Trade Unions Unite Scotland and GMB Scotland, jointly representing 472 of the McVitie’s workers, branded the move “an absolute disgrace” and claimed the company refused to engage with the action group set up by the Scottish Government.
With a meeting of the group, chaired by finance minister Kate Forbes, scheduled for June 23 to discuss proposals to maintain a presence at the Tollcross factory, GMB Scotland organiser David Hume said issuing redundancy notices was “an act of extreme bad faith”.
Operations at the factory are expected to cease later in 2022 with production of Hobnobs and Rich Tea Biscuits moving to one of six Pladis sites in England.
Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace and slap in the face to the workforce that not only has McVitie’s formally issued redundancy notices but they are also refusing to engage with the action group established by the Scottish Government.”
David Murray, Pladis UK and Ireland managing director, previously said action had to be taken at the Tollcross plant to tackle “excess capacity”.
Mr Hume said: “David Murray needs to be hauled by the cabinet secretary before the members of the action group because this is a profitable business with an innovative workforce that can and should have a future in the east end of Glasgow.”
A petition calling for the McVitie’s factory to be saved has more than 50,000 signatures.
A spokesperson for pladis said: “We can confirm that we have today issued the HR1 notice; a letter which is a part of the formal consultation process on our proposal to close our factory in Tollcross.
“In recent weeks we have been frequently engaging with our trade union representatives and the Action Group co-chaired by cabinet secretary Kate Forbes and councillor Susan Aitken. We remain committed to meaningful consultation with our employees and their representatives.”
An attempt to break the 36-year-old record for the fastest train journey between London and Glasgow has failed.
Avanti West Coast’s Royal Scot train arrived at Glasgow Central just 21 seconds behind the record of three hours, 52 minutes and 40 seconds set by British Rail in December 1984, the rail operator said.
Rail expert Mark Smith, who was on board, wrote on Twitter that a temporary speed limit on the track at Carstairs, South Lanarkshire, “cost us 90 seconds”.
He added: “It was a known risk but they thought we could still do it. But it’s still the fastest train I’ve ever taken from London to Scotland.”
Before the departure of the train from London Euston at 10.36am on Thursday, Avanti West Coast said it was attempting to set a new record to highlight “the ease of travelling between the home nations”.
The firm collaborated with government-owned Network Rail, which manages rail infrastructure, to plot the train’s path around passenger and freight services on the West Coast Main Line.
The Scotch whisky industry has welcomed news the US will not impose tariffs on the spirit for five years, following a breakthrough in talks on the Airbus-Boeing dispute.
A 25% tariff was placed on single malt Scotch whisky by the Trump administration as part of a trade dispute between the US and EU countries over aerospace subsidies.
Washington agreed to temporarily halt tariffs in March in a bid to negotiate a solution.
After talks between UK international trade secretary Liz Truss and US trade representative Katherine Tai, both sides have agreed to halt retaliatory tariffs for five years.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) estimates more than £600m in exports was lost due to the trade barrier.
Other UK industries including cashmere and construction vehicles were also affected by the trade dispute, which had made exporting to the US harder since October 2019.
Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, said: “This is very good news for Scotch whisky.
“The past two years have been extremely damaging for our industry, with the loss of over £600m in exports to the United States caused by a 25% tariff on single malt Scotch whisky imposed as a result of the long-running dispute between US and European aircraft manufacturers.
“This deal removes the threat of tariffs being reimposed on Scotch whisky next month and enables distillers to focus on recovering exports to our largest and most valuable export market.
“Today’s agreement is a culmination of many months of intensive negotiations and we’re grateful to Liz Truss, international trade secretary, and Katherine Tai, US trade representative, and their teams for their hard work.
“Given, however, that this deal suspends tariffs rather than fully resolving the underlying dispute, what’s critical now is that the governments and aerospace companies on both sides stick to their commitments and work with one another constructively.
“I want to note too that American whiskies remain subject to tariffs on entry into the UK and EU as a result of a separate dispute on steel and aluminium, and we hope these tariffs can also be resolved quickly.”
As part of the deal struck between the US and UK governments, both sides agreed to form a working group on the civil aviation industry.
They have agreed that research and development practices will not harm the other, as well as agreeing to co-operate against “non-market practices of third countries”.
Truss said: “This deal will support jobs across the country and is fantastic news for major employers like Scotch whisky and sectors like aerospace.
“We took the decision to de-escalate the dispute at the start of the year when we became a sovereign trading nation, which was crucial to breaking the deadlock and bringing the US to the table.
“I want to thank Katherine personally for her role in making this happen.
“Today’s deal draws a line under an incredibly damaging issue and means we can focus on taking our trading relationship with the US to the next level, including working more closely to challenge unfair practices by nations like China and using the power of free trade to build back better from the pandemic.”
SNP MP David Linden welcomed the removal of tariffs but he claimed the UK Government had dragged its feet on the issue.
He said: “From the outset, Scotch whisky should never have been caught in the crossfire of this trade dispute and today’s news will see the industry in Scotland breathe a massive sigh of relief.
“Whilst this announcement is very welcome after months of cross-party campaigning, the losses to Scotch whisky exports have been eye-watering and it will take time for the industry to get back on its feet.
Scottish environment bosses say they are confident long-awaited clean-up works at Dalgety Bay will be complete by September next year.
Removal of radioactive materials from beaches in the Fife town – thought to be Scotland’s worst area of radioactive pollution – began in May, 30 years after they were first discovered on the coast.
Private contractor Balfour Beatty is handling the clean-up on behalf of defence chiefs, and aim to make Dalgety Bay’s beaches fully accessible to the public for the first time in years once they are finished.
Delivering their first update to local councillors since the clean-up began, the Ministry of Defence and national environment body SEPA said works were progressing as expected.
Stephen Ritchie, of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said: “The project has moved forward since we last spoke. The contractor has applied for and received the license necessary from SEPA, who expedited that very quickly.
“As of May 17 the contractor has been on-site and beginning the process of the decontamination of the beach. The MoD and SEPA continue to collaborate and the target date of completion is September 2022.”
Despite falling victim to a cyberattack last Christmas that crippled most of its systems, SEPA was able to rush through Balfour Beatty’s application in a matter of weeks rather than its usual timeframe of four months.
Dr Paul Dale, the quango’s radioactive substances manager, added: “Work has commenced to undertake the necessary remediation of the beach – there are no issues in terms of undertaking to remove all restrictions once this is complete.”
Dalgety Bay SNP councillor David Barratt, who once criticised the ambiguity surrounding the works as “start date roulette”, is among those pleased to see real headway on them at last.
“It’s really good to see progress,” councillor Barratt said, praising SEPA’s “robust mechanisms” for monitoring the works.
Much of Dalgety Bay’s coast has been closed off to the public since traces of radium-226 were unearthed through coastal erosion in the 1990s.
The material was used to make Second World War aeroplane instruments glow in the dark, and later incinerated and disposed of at the coast before the town was established.
Fife’s South and West Area Committee also heard on Wednesday that, among all of Scotland’s sites of radioactive contamination, Dalgety Bay was the worst – and the most likely to pose a threat to the public.
SEPA has a list of approximately a dozen sites rife with radioactive contamination across Scotland. The register is not routinely made available to the public, but such a tally was published by the Sunday Herald in 2012 using freedom of information laws.
Radioactivity expert Dr Dale added: “The work we’re undertaking at Dalgety Bay could have occurred at other sites – so what we have done since understanding the magnitude of the issue at Dalgety Bay is undertake a review at similar sites in Scotland.
“Fortunately, these sites haven’t encountered anything like the magnitude of the problems that we see at Dalgety Bay.”
Balfour Beatty’s toil, which will be suspended during the winter to protect nesting birds, will see the most radioactive material removed and other trace elements covered with new rock armour.
Dalgety Bay Sailing Club will benefit from a new slipway into the Forth that also doubles as radiation shielding to further minimise the risk to the public.