A woman has described the “horrible noise” as a man hit his head on the road beside a city taxi rank in the moments before his death.
Joanne Floyd, a financial team leader from Dundee, was giving evidence at the trial of two men accused of killing 62-year-old Brian Fox.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard she had seen a “tall man” being approached by another man wearing a blue shirt before falling “straight back” and hitting his head on the ground.
The 49-year-old said: “He lay there on the ground on his back – there was a horrible noise as his head hit the ground.”
Giving evidence on the first day of the trial, Mrs Floyd said she and four others had been heading for the Nethergate taxi rank after a Hogmanay ceilidh at the Queen’s Hotel which they left at “about 1am”.
She said a group of three younger people had been acting “yobbish” as they made their way towards a taxi rank on the Nethergate before getting into a fight with revellers over taxis.
It is alleged that, in the course of the fighting, Mr Fox was punched on the head and fell, hitting his head on the ground, before being hit on the head again.
Much of her evidence centred around a man in a blue shirt who acted aggressively towards several people in the queue.
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Mrs Floyd told the court: “We were just passing the Nether Inn and there was quite a lot of noise behind us – it was like a loud bang.
“We all looked around to see what it was. Three people coming down the road appeared to have knocked over a bin – two males and a female, late teens, early 20s.”
Mrs Floyd described a rammy involving the group in question at the taxi rank, which involved an altercation with a driver.
She said efforts to defuse the situation fell apart within seconds. “There was an older couple who I think were husband and wife who were trying to intervene and calm things down,” she said.
“The husband tried to speak to him (the man in the blue shirt) and he started getting really aggressive, in his face.“He gave the husband an almighty shove which made both spin around and fall flat on their faces in the middle of the road.
“I went across to try to help them. As I looked up, the girl trying to get the taxi was in the middle of the road fighting with the guy in the blue shirt.
“I was trying to help the lady get up off the ground. I looked up again and I could see there was a man, a big tall man, in the middle of the road in front of the guy with the blue shirt, who punched him.
“He stepped forward and punched him and the man fell straight back.”
The advocate depute asked Mrs Floyd if she was sure he had been punched, referring to the fact she had not mentioned this in her initial police statement.
“The angle it looked like it did connect with him and he automatically fell straight back,” she said.
“I looked across and my husband was putting him in the recovery position.
“I have this image in my head of the other guy running across from the side and punching him while he was on the ground.”
Mrs Floyd was challenged by the advocate depute and defence lawyers Donald Findlay QC and Mark Stewart QC why she hadn’t mentioned this or the initial punch in her statement. She said: “I felt like I didn’t want to see it.
“Like I’ve tried to block it out if you know what I mean.”
The trial, before Lord Beckett, continues.
‘Brian had been quite happy’
One of the last people to see Brian Fox alive said he had been “quite happy” in the minutes before his death.
William Duncan, 59, had spent a few hours bringing in the new year with Mr Fox before the 62-year-old died at a taxi rank on the Nethergate on January 1.
The High Court in Edinburgh was shown CCTV footage of a man identified as Mr Fox entering McDaniels bar on Whitehall Crescent at around 9.45pm on December 31 last year.
Mr Duncan said: “My son phoned me, I think it was about one-ish. I answered it in the pub and went outside because it was a bit noisy.
“He (Brian) was still in the pub. I was going back in the bar and Brian was coming out.
“We said cheerio, have a nice night. I’m sure we shook hands, and he said: ‘I’m just going up the road to get a taxi.’”
Mr McGuire asked: “Did you ever see Brian Fox alive again?”
Mr Duncan replied: “No.”
He said he found out his friend was dead when he read about it in the Evening Telegraph two days later.
Accused pair enter claim of self-defence
The charges faced by both accused – Adam Valentine and Wes Reid – allege that, while acting together, the pair assaulted Brian Fox and punched him on the head, causing him to strike his head on the ground and again punched him on the head and killed him.
Valentine faces a host of other charges of assault and disorderly conduct on the night of January 1 – while both men are accused of conducting themselves in a disorderly manner by overturning a bin, swinging from an awning, shouting, swearing, making threats of violence, repeatedly striking a vehicle and committing a breach of the peace.
Valentine is accused of assaulting Connell Owen Grieve by grabbing him by the clothing, and of assaulting Graeme Dow Allen by punching him on the head, causing him to hit it on a car door and then punching him repeatedly.
Valentine is also accused of further assaults on Sandra Jean Baird, Kenneth Smith Simpson, Katie Elise Muir and Alexander Ross Bowman.
Valentine is further accused of, while acting with another, assaulting Amy Elaine McFadyen by seizing her by the hair, punching her on the head and knocking her to the ground, as well as repeatedly punching and kicking her on the head and body, all to her injury.
Each has entered a special defence of self-defence in relation to separate charges.
The trial is being heard in front of judge Lord Beckett at the High Court in Edinburgh and is expected to last well into next week as evidence is given.