TWO men have appeared in court charged with murdering a man by pushing him over a canal bridge and prising loose his hands as he clutched to its safety rails.
Mark Munro and James Robertson are said to have murdered former Forth Valley College student Russell Robertson after attacking him on Bainsford Bridge in Falkirk, where busy Grahams Road crosses the Forth and Clyde Canal.
Munro, 30, and James Robertson, 26, are accused of acting together in the murder of Russell, 27, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
At consecutive private five-minute hearings at Falkirk Sheriff Court, neither made any plea, and procurator fiscal depute Catherine Knowles opposed bail.
Sheriff Derek Livingston continued the case for further examination and remanded Munro, of Denny, Stirlingshire, and Robertson, of Westquarter, Falkirk, also Stirlingshire, in custody.
A single charge against them, on petition, reads that, while acting together, they “assaulted Russell Robertson, seized him by the neck, placed their arms around his neck and restrained him, seized him by the body, threw him to the ground, pushed him over the bridge railings, and whilst he was hanging from said railings, punched him on the hands and prized his hands from said railings causing him to fall to his injury, and murdered him”.
Munro, who was represented by Denny solicitor Willie McIntyre, and Robertson, who was represented by Falkirk solicitor Billy Hendry, will appear in court again at a later date.
After his death, Russell Robertson’s distraught family paid tribute to the dead man in a statement issued through the police.
They said: “We are totally devastated at the loss of Russell. He was a much loved son, brother, nephew and uncle. We would respect privacy from the media at this difficult time.”
Russell’s body was found near Grahams Road at around 5am on Sunday.
The stretch of canal where the murder is alleged to have taken place is near the Warehouse nightclub, where hundreds of people were partying until the early hours of Sunday morning.
Tributes to Russell, who was known to friends as “Smeegs”, poured in on social media.
Detective Inspector Alec Cameron of the Major Investigation Team said: “Our sincere condolences are with Russell’s family and friends at this sad time.
“I want to thank the local community for their support and reassure people that we’ll use all resources at our disposal to ensure a thorough investigation into Russell’s death.
“We’re urging anyone who may be able to assist with our inquiries, particularly anyone in the Grahams Road area shortly before 3.30am on Sunday morning, to get in touch as soon as possible.”
It is understood doormen from a nearby club tried to save his life after seeing someone fall from a bridge, but lost him in the darkness.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene after the pair raised the alarm.
Firefighters combed the water in a boat before pulling his body from the water at 5am yesterday.
A source told The Sun newspaper: “Two bouncers from a nearby club who had finished their shift were driving home.
“They raised the alarm and did everything they could to try and locate him in the water. It was the middle of the night and was really dark as they tried to find him but sadly there was no sign of him.
“It didn’t take long for the fire service guys to find him once they were on the water.
“There’s not many pubs around that way but The Warehouse nightclub is nearby.”
Prior to the tragedy, Mr Robertson, known locally as Smeegs, posted a photo on Facebook as he looked forward to a night out.