Eleanor Whitelaw ‘covered in blood’, trial hears

Police carry out inquiries in Morningside following the attack. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Police carry out inquiries in Morningside following the attack. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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A HUSBAND yesterday told a murder trial that he returned home from shopping to find his wife of 60 years lying on the floor, badly injured and covered in blood.

Robert Whitelaw, 88, was giving evidence at the trial of Robert Buczek, 24, who denies murdering 85-year-old Eleanor Whitelaw at her home in Morningside Grove, Edinburgh, on 11 July, 2014.

In evidence at the High Court in Glasgow, Mr Whitelaw told advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting: “I saw my wife lying on the floor covered in blood.”

Mr Whitelaw, a retired chartered civil engineer, told the jury that he had gone shopping by bus to Waitrose and returned after 4pm. He said he was surprised when he could not get into the house as the front door was locked.

Mr Whitelaw said he went round to the back of the house and in through the back door.

The jury of ten men and five women heard that he walked through the kitchen and into the morning room where he found his wife.

He said: “I took a cushion and put it under her head because I thought she had fainted after having a nose bleed.

“When I put the cushion down I realised it was more serious. I realised she had a cut to the side of her neck. I called for the ambulance service straightaway. I didn’t go far in the hall because it was full of blood.”

Mr Whitelaw was asked if he had noticed anything unusual before his wife was injured and replied: “Just two days before I saw a young man at the bus stop.

“He was looking at the house and looking at us. It attracted my attention.”

The court heard that Mrs Whitelaw died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on 28 July last year, 17 days after being attacked.

The jury was shown a photograph of Mrs Whitelaw while she was undergoing treatment in hospital. She was lying on a bed with a mask over her face and number of tubes attached to medical equipment.

Paramedic Kirstie Forsyth told the court it was quickly obvious that Mrs Whitelaw’s injuries had not come from a fall and the police were contacted.

She told prosecutor Mr Prentice: “Mrs Whitelaw was lying on her side, kind of scrunched up. I was very conscious she wasn’t moving and I couldn’t feel a pulse in her wrist, which raised my concerns about her blood loss.”

Mr Prentice asked Ms Forsyth: “Was she able to respond at all?” and she replied: “She was quite distressed and making noises, but was unable to speak.”

The prosecutor then asked: “Was she in pain?”

Ms Forsyth replied: “She seemed to be distressed.”

A woman who lived round the corner from the Whitelaws told the court of seeing a man in his twenties running from the direction of their home on the afternoon of the attack, carrying a black plastic bag.

Janice Robertson, 51, said she and her daughter were sitting in their front garden. She said: “We were out in the garden from 3pm onwards. I heard the sound of footsteps. It wasn’t jogging – it was fast running. The area was quiet and there was no traffic.”

Mrs Robertson told the jury that she saw the man for about three seconds and added: “I told my husband about it that night. I said he could have been eastern European – possibly something to do with the bone structure.”

The court heard that she went on holiday abroad the next day but contacted police while on holiday after hearing about an incident in Morningside Grove.

In court, she identified the accused Buczek as the man she saw running that afternoon.

But under-cross examination by defence QC Brian McConnachie, she admitted that she had not identified Buczek at a police line-up.

The trial continues.

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