THE devastated family of a man who was killed after being attacked by a thug wielding a metal beer keg are “unlikely” to learn exactly how he died, a court has heard.
Ryan Cameron and Ross Tait were on trial for the third time accused of the murder of 40-year-old David McCardle in Musselburgh last August.
But prosecutors yesterday accepted Cameron’s plea to a lesser charge of culpable homicide while Tait was acquitted of the murder.
The Crown acknowledged that no witnesses can “properly be said unequivocally to be describing the attack” on Mr McCardle before accepting the reduced pleas.
Advocate depute Iain McSporran said that the victim was the youngest of seven children and some of his siblings has attended the trial “in the hope that they might discover exactly what happened to their brother that night.”
He added: “Their grief has been compounded by the fact that 14 months later, the evidence of precise events remains unclear and it seems unlikely that it will ever be clearer.”
Cameron, 26, has previous convictions for assaulting police, possession of an offensive weapon and assault to severe injury while Tait, 22, has convictions for racially aggravated conduct and assault.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Cameron and Tait, who was on bail at the time for another offence, were “significantly under the influence of alcohol” when they turned up at the Clubhouse Bar in the town’s North High Street on August 28 last year.
The pair were turned away as Tait was barred, but moments later they went back into the bar through the fire exit.
Mr McSporran said they quickly became involved in a confrontation with Steven Lindsay whom he described as “an unlicensed doorman”.
He added: “Lindsay denies, but the evidence suggests and the Crown accepts, that he had by this time armed himself with a hammer with which he assaulted Cameron to his severe injury, including a fractured jaw but most importantly a fractured skull with an associated heavily bleeding wound.”
The court heard that Mr McCardle took a broom from the pub and went outside with Derek Robertson where they confronted the accused.
Mr Robertson threw the empty keg at Cameron, who then got into a fight with Mr McCardle, repeatedly punching the older man.
Following his death pathologists discovered that Mr McCardle had received a single fatal blow to his right side which resulted in “catastrophic” damage to his liver from two broken ribs.
The prosecutor said: “It is understood that Cameron’s position is that during a fight with the deceased, at a point after both had gone to ground, he seized the beer keg by both ends and thrust it into and along the side of the deceased.”
Mr McSporran said the victim, who lived in Musselburgh with his girlfriend Paula Cassidy, was a “popular man who was well known and liked in the town”.
Tait pled guilty to assaulting Derek Robertson to his severe injury by striking him with a wooden pole.
The judge, Lord Stewart, deferred sentence on Cameron and Tait until next month.
A first trial involving the pair, both from Musselburgh, had to be halted earlier this year when the judge, Lady Dorrian, realised that she knew one of the witnesses.
A second attempt to run the murder case came to a halt after the new presiding judge Sean Murphy QC discovered that his wife was a distant relative through marriage of the victim.