Trio who beat Leith businessman ‘black and blue’ face jail

Alexander Ormiston died two weeks after the brutal attack.
Alexander Ormiston died two weeks after the brutal attack.
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THREE men who abducted and brutally assaulted a businessman over an alleged £80,000 debt, leaving their victim looking like the “Elephant Man”, have been warned they face lengthy jail terms.

Alexander Ormiston, 63, who owned a haulage company based at Leith docks, died two weeks after being beaten “black and blue”.

Brian Kennedy, 31, Paul Breslin, 41, and Ian Oliver, 26, had faced charges of culpable homicide during a trial held at the High Court in Edinburgh.

But the jury decided there was not enough evidence to convict the three men of killing Mr Ormiston and instead found them guilty of abducting and assaulting the victim to his severe injury.

Judge Lord Pentland warned the men that they faced “substantial” prison sentences after being convicted yesterday.

The trio broke into Mr Ormiston’s home in Rosyth, Fife, on May 19 last year because Kennedy claimed the entrepreneur owed him tens of thousands of pounds.

They repeatedly punched Mr Ormiston on the head and body and forced him to drive to a branch of the Bank of Scotland in Leith.

When he arrived, the abductors ordered him to withdraw £5000 from his account.

Mr Ormiston, who suffered from health problems, then fell seriously ill and eventually died at the Western General Hospital on June 3 last year.

Kennedy, of Glenrothes, Fife, Breslin, of Carberry Court, Musselburgh, and Oliver, a prisoner of HMP Shotts, had denied culpable homicide.

The jury heard that Mr Ormiston, who owned haulage company Ormiston Transport, was locked in a legal dispute with another haulage operator, Kennedy, who was suing him for £80,000.

But rather than trust the legal process, Kennedy took the law into his own hands and decided to attack his rival in a bid to retrieve the cash.

Kennedy and his accomplices went to Mr Ormiston’s home and subjected him to a horrifying ordeal. The prosecution alleged that Mr Ormiston was handcuffed and threatened with weapons to hand over cash.

Days after the assault, Mr Ormiston’s employee, mechanic Brian Burns, told the court that his employer looked like the “Elephant Man”.

The 41-year-old said Mr Ormiston’s face was all “black and blue” when he turned up for work. He said: “He was just staring into space.”

Mr Burns said that his boss refused medical help so he took him to the home of his brother, Douglas, who lived in the Trinity area of the Capital.

Prosecution lawyer Tim Niven Smith asked Mr Burns if he made a joke about Alexander Ormiston’s appearance.

Mr Burns said: “Yes, he was like the Elephant Man.”

Douglas Ormiston told the court that his brother looked “brutalised” when he turned up at his house.

He added: “His face was very severely swollen about the mouth. He had some scuffs and abrasions. I thought ‘Good grief, what has happened?’”

The trial heard that four days after the alleged attack, Mr Ormiston failed to answer his door or phone.

Mr Ormiston’s son-in-law, Craig Wright, 37, who works for Forth Ports Authority, said he took a set of keys to the Rosyth address and found his father-in-law lying semi- conscious in his bedroom.

He added: “He just wasn’t there. His eyes were half shut. He was rolling about, mumbling. He was lying on his bed.”

Mr Wright said he called for an ambulance. Defence lawyers said it was possible that Mr Ormiston’s health problems may have caused his death.

Following their conviction, Lord Pentland told the three men in the dock: “You have each been convicted of a very serious crime. It is inevitable that I will impose a substantial custodial sentence on you.”

Sentence was deferred for reports.

All three had records

ONE of the men who abducted and assaulted Alexander Ormiston committed the horror attack while out on license from prison.

Ian Oliver was jailed for six years at the High Court in Glasgow in June 2007 for dealing drugs and hamesucken – the Scots law expression used to describe the situation when somebody breaks into a house.

Following the conviction of the three men, prosecution lawyer Tim Niven Smith told the court: “It would seem that he assaulted the householder. He was jailed for six years.

“He was released on licence from this sentence on January 26 2011.”

Speaking from the bench yesterday, judge Lord Pentland also revealed that Brian Kennedy has two previous ­convictions for resisting police arrest.

Meanwhile, Paul Breslin has previous convictions for theft and breach of the peace.

Lord Pentland remanded the three men into custody before deferring sentence to another hearing for reports.

It is expected that defence counsels Donald Findlay QC, Brian McConnachie QC and John Keenan will present any ­mitigation for their clients at that hearing. It is likely to include the fact Mr Ormiston did not keep good health,

The trial heard how he had a drink problem and had been taken to hospital in September or October 2010 when he ­suffered a blackout during a holiday to the United States.

Defence lawyers told the court that it was possible that his health problems may have caused his death.

The three men will be sentenced on January 4, 2013.

Early release condemned

THE decision to free Ian Oliver from prison five months before he attacked Alexander Ormiston was today branded a “damning indictment” of the early release policy.

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Clearly, if this man had served his full sentence then he would not have been free to have committed such a brutal offence. It was obvious from the offence he was jailed for in 2007 that he was a very violent individual and a danger to society.

“Sadly, his early release is another damning indictment of the SNP’s refusal to end automatic release for prisoners, resulting in some of the most serious offenders being let out before they have served their time. This case is a tragic example.”