Man jumped from flat balcony after admitting attacking two people, report finds

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A man who admitted attacking two people told police “If they’re dead, I’m joining them” before leaping to his death from a 12th-floor balcony, a report has found.

Officers found Hugh Gallacher, 56, standing on the balcony with apparently blood-stained hands when they were called to the tower block at Donside Court, Aberdeen, on July 19, 2016.

Police treated the deaths of Keith Taylor and Tracy Gabriel as murder while Mr Gallacher died from his injuries after leaping from the tower block.

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Pirc) praised the “high degree of professionalism” shown by officers at the scene in her report into the incident.

The four officers found Mr Taylor, 43, lying on a sofa in the living room when they entered the flat at 8.36pm. He had been stabbed and there was blood on his chest and face.

Officers then saw Mr Gallacher, 56, standing on the balcony of the flat looking agitated and blood-stained.

He leaned into the living-room through an open window and shouted comments indicating he was responsible for inflicting injuries on Mr Taylor and Ms Gabriel.

Two of the officers carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Mr Taylor while the other two officers tried to calm Mr Gallacher and persuade him to come back inside over a three to four-minute period.

However, Mr Gallacher pointed to where a woman, Ms Gabriel, lay on the balcony and indicated he planned to jump, explaining that if he came back inside the flat he would be arrested.

He then told officers “If they’re dead, I’m joining them”, slammed the balcony window shut with such force that it jammed the window closed and jumped from the balcony at 8.40pm.

The officers found Ms Gabriel, 40, the occupier of the flat, lying on the balcony with stab wounds to her chest.

They tried to help her while other officers carried out first aid on Mr Gallacher, who was on the ground outside the tower block, but their lives could not be saved.

Pirc Kate Frame praised the police response to the incident.

She said: “The call to Police Scotland was categorised correctly and officers were dispatched to the scene within the required five-minute timescale.

“It is clear that officers attempted to persuade Hugh Gallacher to come back into the flat from the balcony but had limited opportunity to prevent him from completing his stated intention of suicide.

“They were confronted with very difficult circumstances but dealt with them appropriately, and with a high degree of professionalism.”

The report said a witness who was present at the doorway to the flat heard the police officers calmly trying to defuse the situation.

North east divisional commander Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson said: “I acknowledge the outcome of this review by the commissioner into what was a completely tragic incident that deeply affected one of our local communities.

“In common with the Pirc review, I recognise the professionalism of our officers who attended at the time and the appropriateness of their actions when faced with an extremely challenging and difficult set of circumstances.

“Our thoughts continue to be with all those families involved.”

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