A disturbing image of an apparent murder in Edinburgh captured on Google Streetview has been revealed as a hoax.
Confronted with evidence of a brutal crime while scanning the streets of Leith, one shocked website user called police to report an apparent slaying.
Officers from Police Scotland were deployed to investigate – but quickly discovered the cold-blooded murderer and his lifeless victim were actually a pair of mischievous mechanics.
The quick-thinking jokers staged the fake homicide as Google’s camera car passed alongside their garage in Giles Street.
Garage boss and “murder victim” Dan Thompson said he was “mortified” when uniformed officers turned up at the business to investigate reports of his death.
Working nearby was “axe-wielding maniac” and mechanic Gary Kerr, who also had to sheepishly admit it was all a hoax.
Laughing police officers were impressed by their gag, however, and left Tomson’s Motor Company content they had cracked the case.
Mr Thompson, 56, who has run the garage for three decades, said: “I recognised the Google car coming into the street from the camera tower on the top. Giles Street is in a U-shape so we had about a minute before it would pass us. It had to go around a car park to take various shots so that gave us some time. We just thought we had to do something. This opportunity wasn’t coming around very often so Gary grabbed a pick axe handle and we ran out into the street.
“We decided really quickly what to do and I lay down while Gary stood over me with a pick axe handle. “I wish we’d a little more time because we would have went out mob-handed and really staged an elaborate tableau for the camera.”
The Google image was taken last summer, and the mechanics forgot all about it as several months passed before the footage went online.
Mr Thompson added: “It was a guy from one of our local parts supply companies who called us up and said he had seen us on Street View. But then someone else must have looked at it and thought it was a real attack and called the police.
Two uniformed officers came down to the garage to interview us. They were treating it seriously at first – I was mortified because we didn’t want to waste police time.
“We explained to the police what we had done and they thought it was hilarious.”
Mr Kerr, 31, said: “I had seen various stunts that people pulled on Street View in the papers so we thought this was our chance.
“I think Google do it every four years so we’ll have to think of something even better for next time.” Launched in 2007, Street View provides panoramic views of roads across the world captured by Google’s car-mounted cameras.
Individuals caught on cameras have their faces blurred due to privacy concerns while pranksters across the globe have managed to get their own staged scenes onto the database
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said officers treated all reports of suspected crime seriously. She said: “Anyone with any concerns, or who would like to report a crime, should contact police on 101.”