A specialist road traffic collision investigator who carried out a survey of Kinnordy Loch car park has spoken of a 40-metre drag mark to where the body of Steven Donaldson was found beside his burned out BMW.
Perth-based PC Stewart Copeland was giving evidence at the trial of Tasmin Glass, Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson, who are accused of murdering the 27-year-old oil worker from Arbroath at the nature reserve near Kirriemuir.
Mr Copeland, who went to the car park two days after Mr Donaldson’s body was discovered, told the jury at the High Court in Edinburgh he used a laser scanner, similar to that used by construction engineers, from several points in and around the car park to build a 360 degree view of the scene.
Asked by advocate depute Ashley Edwards about the drag mark which the jury had previously heard was found running from the car park entrance to the deceased’s burned out car, the witness said it was “quite distinctive” and had left a “furrow” behind it. He told the court it was 62 centimetres at its widest point.
“It was a uniform mark, like one item being dragged across a surface rather than trailing items,” said Mr Copeland.
“To leave that kind of mark it would have to be a solid rounded item, with no sharp edges protruding from it.”
Taking into account the space covered by the burned out BMW, the witness said the length of the drag mark was 40 metres.
Mr Copeland also told the court he and a fellow investigator had noticed a tyre mark, which they believed had been left after the drag mark was created.
The witness said the mark was a 1.8 metre acceleration mark in the gravel, 21 centimetres wide.
He said it could have been a wheelspin mark from a motorcycle.
Questioned about the direction of travel, he said: “The vehicle was accelerating from the centre of the car park to the exit.”
Under cross-examination by Ian Duguid QC, defending Steven Dickie, the investigator was asked if there were any other marks to suggest, if it was a motorcycle, it had been driven anywhere else in the car park.
Mr Copeland replied: “The only evidence of any vehicle that has caused that mark is that mark itself.”
The defence counsel suggested a scenario of someone driving down the adjacent road and into the car park, seeing the burning vehicle and then driving right back out again and asked if that was a feasible explanation for the mark.
“Yes it is,” replied the witness.
The trial, before Lord Pentland and a jury of eight women and seven men, is scheduled to last 18 days.
Charges faced by Glass, Dickie and Davidson
The charge faced by all three accused – Tasmin Glass, Steven Dickie and Callum Davidson – alleges that between June 6 and 7 2018 at the Peter Pan playpark, Kirriemuir, and Loch of Kinnordy nature reserve car park, they arranged to meet Mr Donaldson with the intention of harming him and assaulted him. Once there, they repeatedly struck him on the head and body with unknown instruments whereby he was incapacitated. Thereafter, they took him to Loch of Kinnordy where they repeatedly struck him on the head and body with a knife and baseball bat or similar instruments, then repeatedly struck him on the head and neck with an unknown heavy bladed instrument and set fire to him and his motor vehicle, registered S73 VED, and murdered him.
Dickie and Davidson face four other charges including one of behaving in a threatening manner towards two men between January 2014 and June 2018 by making threats, following them on foot and in a motor vehicle.
They are also charged with putting a kitten in a bag in Main Street, Lochore, Fife, during an incident between February 1 and May 31 2017, swinging the bag about and punching and kicking the kitten.
Another charge includes behaving in a threatening manner towards a man in St Malcolm’s Wynd, Kirriemuir, and elsewhere between December 1 2017 and February 28 2018 by following him on foot and in a vehicle, and threatening him with weapons.
Both also deny following and staring at a woman and kicking her car in Kirriemuir between August 1 2017 and April 31 2018.
Davidson faces a further charge of assaulting a man between June 1 2017 and December 31 2017 at a house in Glengate, Kirriemuir.
He allegedly pushed him to the floor and threatened to punch him.
Dickie is also accused of assaulting a woman at the Ogilvy Arms pub in Kirriemuir between February 1 and 28 last year.
He allegedly seized her by the wrist and neck and threatened her with violence.