Scots crime journalist tells court of acid attack at his home

Glasgow High Court. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow High Court. Picture: John Devlin
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A crime journalist and author has told a jury that a toxic corrosive liquid was thrown onto his face by a man claiming to be a postman.

Russell Findlay, 44, told the High Court in Glasgow yesterday that he was attacked at his home in the west end of Glasgow at around 8:30am on 23 December, 2015. William Burns, 56, and Alexander Porter, 48, of Foxbar, Paisley, are on trial accused of throwing acid in Mr Findlay’s face. They both deny the charges.

Mr Findlay – who is investigations editor at the Scottish Sun and author of books about Glasgow criminals – told prosecutor Richard Goddard he looked through the glass panel of his front door on the day of the alleged attack and saw someone in a red jacket. The journalist said: “I opened the door partially, about a foot. He said either ‘Royal Mail’ or ‘post’.”

Mr Goddard said: “What happened next?” Mr Findlay replied: “He said, ‘There’s a parcel’ and a hand came through the gap in the door with a standard Royal Mail card. I was instructed to sign it and given a pen. I asked where [I should sign it] and he said at the top.”

Mr Findlay said as he turned to write his signature he felt a liquid splash on to the right side of his face.

This was followed by a bottle flying past him and then the man, whom he identified in court as Mr Burns, tried to force his way into the house.

Mr Goddard asked: “What was going through your mind?” Mr Findlay replied: “Immediately I instinctively knew there was something very wrong. I’m familiar with these attacks, I’ve read about them. I thought it was a toxic corrosive substance.”

Mr Findlay told the court that his attacker managed to get two or three feet into his home, but he bundled him outside and they grappled on the paved area outside.

The journalist said that, while the incident was going on, his ten-year-old daughter came to the door.

He added: “She was clearly very scared and I shouted at her to go and get help from the neighbours and get them to call the police.”

Mr Findlay managed to hold on to his attacker. He said: “At one point I said, ‘Why did they send a fat clown like you as a hitman? Is this all I’m worth?’”

Mr Findlay was asked if his attacker said anything and he replied: “He said very little. But towards the end I asked him who had sent him and he said, ‘Wee Jamie sends his regards’.”

The court was told a knife was found in the doorway of Mr Findlay’s home and a set of broken false teeth were found on the driveway. Mr Findlay was asked who the teeth belonged to and replied: “They are my assailant’s false teeth.”

Defence advocate Thomas Ross told Mr Findlay: “Mr Burns does not dispute he was the person at your door, but he will tell the jury there was no liquid, no delivery card, no knife.”

Mr Findlay replied: “He was wearing a Royal Mail uniform, had a delivery card and threw acid, good luck with that.”

The journalist denied a suggestion that he had phoned Mr Burns the night before and the accused had said he would meet him at his home the next day. It was claimed the call had been to do with the death of a man by the River Gryffe at Bridge of Weir, but Mr Findlay said he knew nothing about that.

The court also heard that as a result of the incident, Mr Findlay suffered burns to the right side of his face and had blurry vision in his right eye for a number of weeks afterwards.

Mr Burns and Mr Porter are also alleged to have shot Ross Sherlock in a murder attempt near St Helen’s Primary in Bishopbriggs last September.

The trial continues.