A man has been acquitted of killing a 62-year-old welder in a New Year’s Day taxi rank brawl after jurors accepted his claim of self-defence.
Wes Reid, 20, had faced a charge of culpable homicide in relation to the death of Brian Fox, who died after fracturing his skull on the Nethergate on January 1.
Advocates acting for Reid, of Newport Road, Tayport, had lodged a special defence of self-defence, claiming Reid believed he was “about to be attacked by the deceased, Brian Fox (and) he struck out with a single blow in self-defence”.
The jury of eight men and seven women returned a majority verdict of not guilty to the charge of culpable homicide at the High Court in Edinburgh.
There were gasps from the public gallery and a member of Mr Fox’s family left the courtroom when the verdict was read out.
His family was not available for comment.
Reid’s friend Adam Valentine, 25, was found guilty of assaulting Sandra Jean Baird to her severe injury and danger to her life.
Valentine, a prisoner at HMP Perth, also admitted assaulting Mr Fox as he lay dying on the road.
Members of Valentine’s family shouted “no” as his guilty verdict was read out by the jury.
Valentine pushed Mrs Baird, a 64-year-old shop manager, on the body and caused her to strike her head on the ground, knocking her out, in the minutes preceding Mr Fox’s fatal injury.
Mrs Baird had been out with friends at the DCA’s Hogmanay party before going to the Nethergate taxi rank to get a cab home.
Earlier in the trial the jury had heard she had felt “two hands… at the small of my back” before she fell into the roadway and was knocked unconscious.
Jurors were shown photographs of Mrs Baird’s injuries, which included scabbing and bruising on her chin and face, bruising on her arms, cuts to her hands and bruised knees. She has been left with scarring on her chin and tinnitus as a result of Valentine’s attack.
Judge Lord Beckett remanded Valentine in custody for the preparation of criminal justice and social work reports.
Ordering Valentine to reappear on December 6 to be sentenced, the judge told him: “You will be visited by a social worker and it is in your interest to co-operate with that process.”
Lord Beckett then turned to the jury and commended them on what he called a “very difficult” case.
He told jurors: “In a case that carries considerable emotion on all sides, Mr Fox appears to have done nothing wrong whatsoever, but acted in a responsible manner in saying ‘come on and calm down’.
“Tragically it has cost him his life – but the punch which caused him to fall and die was one punch from a young person, and it occurred in circumstances where Mr Fox, a much larger man, has approached the younger man and reached out.
“I make no criticism of the verdict you have returned. You have gone about your task absolutely properly and commendably.”