Duo cleared of using jeep to run over two police officers

High Court in Edinburgh
High Court in Edinburgh
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Two men have been acquitted of using a ‘stolen’ 4X4 jeep to run over two police officers in what prosecutors claimed was an attempted murder bid.

David McLean, 31, and Ryan Gilmour, 25, were told they could go free on Tuesday after a jury returned not proven verdicts against the pair at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The duo stood trial on the allegation that they tried to kill PCs Deborah Lawson and Robert Fitzsimmons with a Nissan Qashqai in Glasgow’s Banner Drive in October last year.

The court heard PC Lawson say she thought she was going to die when the pair drove the vehicle towards her.

She had been dragged a total of 14.5 metres after the duo allegedly refused to get out of the car to speak to the officers.

The court heard how as she lay on the ground, Gilmour, who was said to have been the driver, started moving the car towards her.

Her colleague PC Fitzsimmons shouted ‘Debbie’ and pushed her out of the way of the Qashqai.

The pair sustained serious injuries and needed hospital treatment.

Colleagues of the two stricken officers launched an urgent investigation.

They arrested McLean and Gilmour after finding their DNA on the Qashqai which had been set fire in the moments following the attempted murder bid.

Cops also discovered a purse which contained a driver’s licence and bank cards in the vehicle which belonged to a woman who had the same surname as McLean.

But on Tuesday, jurors took just over an hour to return verdicts of acquittal against the two men. They had pleaded not guilty at the start of proceedings.

Friends and family members of the two men were told by court officials to keep quiet after the verdicts were returned.

They started cheering and clapping loudly. One supporter shouted ‘good decision’.

Lord Summers told the two men, who come from the Glasgow area, : “You are acquitted of the charges.”

During proceedings, the court heard how PCs Lawson and Fitzsimmons were called to Banner Drive in Knightswood, Glasgow, late on October 23 last year.

The officers attended the street after receiving reports of a disturbance involving youths.

Once arriving in the street, the police officers said they saw a Nissan Qashqai moving in a suspicious manner.

PC Lawson told the court that she got out to speak to the driver of the vehicle.

The court heard that the driver -who the Crown alleged to be Gilmour - appeared to be “startled” and under the influence of a substance.

Prosecutors alleged that McLean was sitting in the back of the car. PC Lawson said a man in the back seat was shouting on the driver to drive away.

PC Lawson said that she asked the driver to step out of the vehicle but he refused and started struggling with her. The court heard that the two men refused to comply with officers requests and PC Fitzsimmons felt as if he had no other option but to use his PAVA incapacity spray on the two men.

However, the car started to reverse back and PC Lawson said she being ‘dragged’ along with the Qashqai.

She told the court: “The car started reversing back. I honestly can’t remember what I was holding onto. I grabbed onto something to stay upright.

“My next memory is me looking down at my feet. I was getting dragged along the ground.

“I just remember screaming. It was the only thing I could do to get the driver to stop the car.”

PC Lawson said that she fell onto the ground but her body continued to move backwards as the car reversed. She told the court that as she fell to the ground, her head came within an inch of striking a wheel.

PC Lawson - who sustained a punctured lung and other injuries in the incident said that as she lay there on the ground, she could hear the engine of the car revving.

She said: “I was in agony and I couldn’t move. I just remember PC Fitzsimmons screaming my name.

“He was screaming Debbie!

“PC Fitzsimmons grabbed me out of the way. If he didn’t move me, I wouldn’t be here today. I thought I was dead. I thought I was going to die.”

PC Fitzsimmons told the court: “It’s the most scared I have ever been. PC Lawson’s screams will live with me for the rest of my life. I thought we were both dead.”

The jury heard that the car was forensically examined after police found it in nearby Scotstoun. It had been set on fire.

The court also heard that forensic scientists recovered DNA from the boot catch of the Nissan 4x4 vehicle. The court heard that the DNA matched Gilmour and McLean’s.

Police also recovered a purse from the vehicle. It contained a driving licence and bank cards belonging to an Angela McLean.

During proceedings, McLean’s advocate John McElroy made a no case to answer submission before Lord Summers.

Mr McElroy argued out with the presence of the jury that the evidence presented by the Crown wasn’t enough to secure a conviction. He argued that the evidence didn’t directly prove the guilt of the accused.

The court heard that DNA can be left on surfaces if people touch them or came into contact with them.

The court heard that the presence of a person’s DNA doesn’t mean they’ve committed a crime.

Mr McElroy said the judge should acquit the accused of all charges.

Lord Summers refused to uphold the submission and allowed the case to go to the jury.

The Crown withdrew a number of other charges against the two men at the end of the prosecution case.

On Tuesday, Mr McElroy told the jury in his closing speech that there was a reasonable doubt against his client. He urged jurors to acquit.

Jurors took just over an hour to acquit the two men.

Relatives of the pair smoked cigars outside the court following the acquittal.