US student in court over St Andrews murder bid

Both students have left the University of St Andrews, where the incident took place in 2011. Picture: Jane Barlow
Both students have left the University of St Andrews, where the incident took place in 2011. Picture: Jane Barlow
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AN AMERICAN student has appeared in court accused of attempting to murder a friend by spiking his drink with anti-freeze at St Andrews University.

Alexander Hilton finally appeared before a sheriff to face the charge more than four years after the alleged incident and following a lengthy extradition battle.

US marshals took Alexander Hilton into custody

Court document

Hilton is accused of trying to kill Robert Forbes in February 2011 at the university’s New Hall ball.

It is alleged he spiked Mr Forbes’ red wine with methanol, used in antifreeze.

Mr Forbes, who was 19 at the time and also from the US, suffered severe nausea and headaches for days and started to lose his vision before spending a week in hospital.

He would have died had he not sought medical help.

Hilton returned to his home in Princeton, Massachusetts, in March 2011, around two weeks after the alleged incident.

That sparked a lengthy extradition row during which his US lawyers claimed he suffered from severe mental illness which would be exacerbated – and possibly prompt him to attempt suicide – if he was sent to Scotland for trial.

But now Hilton will finally face trial in a Scottish court over the allegations.

The 24-year-old appeared in private on petition at Dundee Sheriff Court.

Hilton was charged with assault to severe injury and permanent impairment and attempted murder.

He made no plea or declaration during the brief hearing and the case was continued for further examination.

Sheriff Elizabeth Munro granted the US national bail ahead of further court dates being set.

Hilton, who had been studying economics and computing at St Andrews, was extradited to the UK after losing his legal battle to stay in the US.

Papers lodged at the Massachusetts District Court said Hilton was notified on 13 April by the US state department that his petition to stay in America was denied and that he would be “surrendered to Scottish authorities”.

The documents stated: “On that same date, US marshals took Alexander Hilton into custody and he is now currently being detained at Wyatt detention facility pending transfer to Scotland.”

That came at the end of a lengthy appeals process, after Boston magistrate judge Jennifer Boal ruled in May 2013 that Hilton should be returned to Scotland.