A BARTENDER who was among the last people to speak to a man before his frozen body was discovered by a teenage girl has spoken of her shock.
Mother-of-four Lorri Gifford revealed that she encountered Robert Reid, 29, “flat on his back” and nearly unconscious at a Penicuik bus stop on the night of Saturday, January 19 – only days before his body was found in the back garden of a property in the town’s Strathesk Place.
The 51-year-old said she had a “gut feeling” that the body discovered by 13-year-old Kelsey Craig on Wednesday afternoon belonged to the man she had helped at the bus shelter opposite a Tesco supermarket in Edinburgh Road.
She said: “I felt sick to my stomach when I realised it was the same person.”
Ms Gifford said she approached Mr Reid and contacted the emergency services after seeing him “in a bad way” at the bus stop close to The Cuiken pub.
She said she felt compelled to approach after watching other pedestrians pass by without doing anything to help.
“I was with him for about 40 minutes on the Saturday night waiting for the ambulance to come,” she told the Evening News.
“He was flat on his back and people were just walking past him. I didn’t realise who it was at the time.
“I was trying to get him up but he was not doing very much. He eventually rolled over and shuffled into the corner of the bus stop.
“He then sat hunched up on the ground with his knees up. He didn’t say a thing.”
Ms Gifford said she made her first call to the police at around 7.15pm and was told an ambulance would be sent out.
But she had to wait another 35 minutes before medics arrived and took Mr Reid to hospital.
“He was making these gargling, snorting noises,” she said.
“It was really scary and I was worried. It was bitterly cold and he wasn’t in a good way. I had no idea how long he’d been lying on the ground when I got there.”
Ms Gifford said she did not immediately recognise Mr Reid but was alerted to his identity by a passer-by, who said she knew him.
Ms Gifford would not speculate on similarities between the emergency on Saturday and Wednesday’s horrific discovery – when Mr Reid’s body was found “frozen stiff” as temperatures plunged across the country.
But she paid tribute to him as a “really nice laddie” who was known and liked throughout Penicuik.
“I suppose some people take the wrong path in life but Robert was a good guy – very likeable,” she said.
“Everyone will miss him. I think the town is quite devastated.
“At my work last night, people were saying it was such a waste – such a shame it’s happened to someone so young.
“Everyone is still in shock.”
A police inquiry into the exact cause of Mr Reid’s death is ongoing.
Officers at Lothian and Borders Police are awaiting the results of a post-mortem and it is understood that the incident is expected to be treated as non-suspicious.