Abduction and beating left businessman looking like the Elephant Man, court told

The jury returned a not proven verdict on the conspiracy charge
The jury returned a not proven verdict on the conspiracy charge
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Injuries to a businessman who was allegedly abducted and robbed made him look like the Elephant Man, a court has heard.

Alex Ormiston, 63, stubbornly refused to go to hospital even though his face appeared “brutalised”, a jury was told.

Three men are on trial for killing Mr Ormiston and the High Court in Edinburgh heard that one of them was a rival haulage contractor and had been suing him for £80,000.

Brian Kennedy, 31, Paul Breslin, 41, and Ian Oliver, 26, deny a charge of culpable homicide which alleges they assaulted, abducted and robbed Mr Ormiston on 19 May last year, and inflicted injuries from which he died two weeks later in the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.

It is claimed the men had their faces masked when they forced their way into Mr Ormiston’s home in Rosyth, Fife, and brandished knives at him and restrained him with handcuffs or something similar. Repeated demands were made for money, it is said, and knives were held against his neck and a firearm or imitation firearm was presented at him.

According to the indictment, Mr Ormiston was repeatedly punched and kicked, and was taken in his car over the Forth Road Bridge to the Bank of Scotland at Newkirkgate, Leith, where he was forced to withdraw £5,000 from his account.

Brian Burns, 41, said he was a mechanic/driver for Ormiston Transport, based at Leith Docks, and previously had worked for Kennedy’s firm in Cupar, Fife. In May last year, the two men had been in dispute over money and Kennedy was suing Mr Ormiston for £80,000.

Mr Burns recalled the Thursday morning Mr Ormiston arrived at work with his face “severely black and blue” and appearing “not very good.” He was upset and crying. Mr Burns had never before seen him like that.

He said: “He was sitting at his desk, staring into space. He was mumbling. He said his face was all sore, his head.”

Mr Ormiston refused to be taken to hospital, preferring to go to his brother Douglas Ormiston’s home in the Trinity area of Edinburgh. Next morning, Mr Burns collected him and drove him to his own home in Rosyth.

“When I dropped him off, he said, ‘Wait ‘til I go in and lock the door and make sure the door is locked’, “ Mr Burns added.

He said he had made a joke about Mr Ormiston’s appearance, that he “was like the Elephant Man.”

Douglas Ormiston, 66, retired, said his brother had “blacked out” during a family holiday in the United States in 2010 and had spent a night in hospital. By last May, he was seeking medical assistance for the amount of alcohol he was drinking.

The brothers had spoken on the phone on the morning of 19 May, but Mr Ormiston could not understand what his brother was trying to say. A short time later, he was brought to his home.

“His face had been brutalised for some reason or other, I don’t know. I thought, ‘Good grief, what’s happened?’ It was severely swollen and he had cuts and abrasions. I cleaned his face up as best I could...with TCP and salt water. He screamed like a pig when I did it,” said Mr Ormiston.

His brother stobbornly refused to go to hospital.

Mr Ormiston learned his brother had been taken to hospital by ambulance the following Monday. Mr Ormiston had seen him at their mother’s house a day earlier.

“He seemed to me to be hyper, in a state of high excitement, wound up, angry and annoyed. He was not coherent,” said Mr Ormiston.

Craig Wright, 37, Mr Ormiston’s son-in-law, said he went to his home and found him semi-conscious, and phoned an ambulance.

“He was rolling on the bed, mumbling. He just wasn’t there,” said Mr Wright.

The trial continues.