A lawyer acting for a man accused of killing a 62-year-old in a taxi rank scrap has challenged witnesses’ accounts that the man was “punched” before he fell to the ground.
Giving evidence to a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, Carlotta Canavesio, Calum Heggie and Matthew Wallace-Cookson each independently said they had seen a man “punch” Brian Fox on the Nethergate on January 1.
Mr Fox, pictured inset, died after falling to the ground and hitting his head. Wes Reid, 20, of Newport, and Adam Valentine, 25, of HMP Perth, deny a charge of culpable homicide.
The trial, conducted under Lord Beckett, heard from the three on Monday, each of whom had been in the vicinity of the Nethergate when the incident occurred.
Miss Canavesio, a 22-year-old commis chef, had been out for a walk with a friend from Italy when she came upon the scene.
“We could see there was an argument happening by the taxi rank,” she told the court.
Asked by advocate depute Mark McGuire if she had seen anyone on the ground, she replied: “Two women and a man.” She added: “The man fell in the space of the taxi rank – he was punched and fell down. I saw that.
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“He grabbed a guy by the shoulder to pull him away from this and then this guy turned and punched him.”
Mr McGuire added: “Did you see him make contact with the man who punched him?”
Ms Canavesio responded: “Yes. He was punched and he fell down and when he was down the guy reached out to punch him again. I think it was the same (person), pretty sure.”
However, advocate Donald Findlay QC, for Reid, challenged her on her police statement, in which she said she had seen an individual “push or punch” Mr Fox. She tried to clarify that she meant a “push and a punch”.
Mr Findlay said: “Why (have you changed from) push to punch to push and punch?”
The commis chef said: “It was push and then punch.”
Calum Heggie, a 22-year-old from Cupar, said Mr Fox had been “struck and fell to the ground – punched”. Mr Heggie witnessed the scene from a takeaway on the other side of the road towards the West Marketgait.
When asked by Mr McGuire how certain he was, Mr Heggie replied: “We saw a punch land on the upper half of his body.”
Asked if there had been anything obstructing his view, Mr Heggie, who admitted to drinking half a bottle of vodka in the Carbon nightclub in the hours beforehand, said: “No.”
Mr Findlay challenged the witness, saying: “You saw a man go backwards and land on the ground. An explanation for that would be that there was some kind of propulsion that caused him to stumble backwards.
“Did you see a hand make contact with him or think that is what you must have seen?”
Mr Heggie replied: “I saw some sort of arm at him.”
Mr Findlay said: “From that distance, and with half a bottle of vodka inside you, you can’t have seen from that distance.”
The 22-year-old said: “No.”
Mr Heggie’s friend, Matthew Wallace-Cookson, also 22, was also challenged on his assertion that he had seen Mr Fox “struck with a punch – once”.
Mr Findlay said: “Explain to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury how you saw a clenched fist.”
Mr Wallace-Cookson, of Cupar, replied: “It’s what it looked like. That’s what I saw.”
The trial continues.