Sharkey fire trial: Man denies ‘bailing out’ friend

Tributes outside the Sharkey family's home. Picture: PA

Tributes outside the Sharkey family's home. Picture: PA

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A FORMER marina manager failed to inform police that a murder accused had made disparaging remarks about a man who died in a fire, until the fourth time he was interviewed several months later, a court heard yesterday.

The High Court in Glasgow was told that it was nine months before Simon Fraser, 47, told police of a conversation he had with Scott Snowden, who is on trial accused of the murder of Thomas Sharkey Snr and his two children in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute.

Police outside the flat  in Scott Court, in Helensburgh  where an eight year-old girl was killed with her older brother in a fire at the weekend. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 25, 2011. Bridget Sharkey died along with 21-year-old Thomas in the blaze at the family home in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, early yesterday. Strathclyde Police have launched a murder investigation. See PA story FIRE Family. Photo credit should read:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Police outside the flat in Scott Court, in Helensburgh where an eight year-old girl was killed with her older brother in a fire at the weekend. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 25, 2011. Bridget Sharkey died along with 21-year-old Thomas in the blaze at the family home in Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, early yesterday. Strathclyde Police have launched a murder investigation. See PA story FIRE Family. Photo credit should read:Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The court heard that Mr Fraser told police in April last year that Snowden, 37, said to him during a visit to The Ruby 
Chinese restaurant in the town, days after the July 2011 fire, that Mr Sharkey “got what he 
deserved”.

Under cross-examination, Donald Findlay QC took Mr Fraser, who is a former manger of the Rhu Marina, back to a statement he made in December 2011.

In that statement, he said: “Scott Snowden has never mentioned to me anything about any fire at all, and specifically the one that murdered members of the Sharkey family.”

Mr Findlay said: “Either that is a lie or what you claim he (Snowden) said in The Ruby restaurant is a lie.” Mr Fraser did not reply.

The QC told the witness the statement he gave to police in April last year was “vastly different” from everything he had told police before.

Mr Findlay said this was because a friend of his, named in court as Colin Hughes, had made a confession to him of “fairly serious criminal activity”.

The defence advocate said Mr Fraser’s motivation in going to the police was in a bid to “bail out your good friend Colin Hughes”.

He said the disparaging remark he attributed to Snowden had been “made up” as it might be of assistance to Mr Hughes.

Mr Fraser replied. “No.”

Earlier, Mr Findlay called Mr Fraser a “bare-faced liar”.

Mr Fraser told the court that the meeting in The Ruby was arranged to repay a £3,000 interest-free loan Snowden had given him some months earlier.

He was shown bank records today which showed a withdrawal of £4,500 on 28 June, 2011 which he initially told Advocate Depute Alex Prentice he had returned to Snowden within the next day or two.

But, under cross-examination by Mr Findlay, he said he had been “confused” and that he had kept the money in a brown envelope in his house until he met Snowden in the days following the fire.

“It seems you do not know the difference between two days and two months,” Mr Findlay told the witness, who replied: “Of course I do.”

Mr Findlay read a police statement from May last year in which Mr Fraser told police he withdrew the money to repay the loan in August 2011.

Mr Findlay said: “That is just nonsense. You are a bare-faced liar. Do you want me to prove it?”

Snowden and Robert Jennings, 50, deny murdering three members of the Sharkey family by pouring petrol or something similar through their letter box and setting fire to it.

Thomas Sharkey Jnr, 21, and his eight-year-old sister Bridget died in the blaze at their Scott Court home in Helensburgh in the early hours of Sunday, 24 July, 2011.

Their father, 55-year-old Thomas Sharkey Snr, died of his injuries in hospital six days later.

Between them, Snowden and Jennings face 22 charges, all of which they deny.

Both men have lodged special defences of incrimination and alibi, with Snowden claiming he was in Mexico when the fire started, while Jennings claims he was at home in Helensburgh.

THE TRIAL:

Accused has ‘run-ins’ with victim, court told
DJ tells court of pub fire
Trial hears of other fires

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