Bin bags murder trial jury sent out

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• Jury retire after 17 days of evidence

• Case had homo-erotic background

• Court shown clip from hit musical

THE jury in a trial of a man accused of murdering a former Edinburgh schoolteacher and dismembering his body were sent out today to consider their verdict.

The sawn-off body parts of Alan Wilson, 51, were found dumped in bin bags at a garden in Merchiston Avenue in February.

Ian Sutherland, 33, is accused of strangling Mr Wilson at a flat on the same street and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dismembering the body and disposing of it - both charges he denies.

After 17 days the jury of eight men and seven women were today sent out by Lord Dawson at Edinburgh High Court to consider their verdict.

The jury were told earlier by the prosecution that Sutherland was a cunning and devious actor. The gruesome murder of the former James Gillespie’s teacher was compared to a detective novel by Ian Rankin or Quentin Jardine.

Sutherland lived in the building next to the garden where the body was found.

He blames his then girlfriend Tracy Scott, 31, for Mr Wilson’s death, claiming it was committed in a fit of jealous rage.

Advocate depute Keith Stewart, prosecuting, told the jury yesterday to reject Sutherland’s story and find him guilty.

He reminded the jury of the "homo-erotic" background to the case, which they had seen in letters and greeting cards from Mr Wilson to Sutherland, and photos of the two together. He also recalled the on-off relationship between Sutherland and Ms Scott.

In his closing speech Mr Stewart suggested that Sutherland had played one off against the other - enjoying a physical relationship with ex-sauna girl Ms Scott but flattered by the attentions of the cultured older man.

The advocate depute suggested that Mr Wilson, knowing that Sutherland and Ms Scott had broken up, and that she was living in a Salvation Army hostel, went for Sunday lunch at Sutherland’s flat, glad that she was out of the way. But instead of persuading Sutherland to move from friendship to a gay affair, he was murdered.

Mr Stewart asked the jury to believe that Sutherland was "totally heterosexual", as he told detectives who questioned him in the aftermath of the discovery of the body.

"He killed Mr Wilson after Mr Wilson had tried once too often to come on to him," Mr Stewart said.

"The evidence suggested [Mr Wilson] was besotted with Sutherland, infatuated with him, but his feelings were not returned."

The trial heard claims that when Sutherland showed Ms Scott the body, he said he had strangled Mr Wilson for getting into bed with him naked and running his hands over his body.

But Mr Stewart accused Sutherland of pandering to the older man’s infatuation by walking round naked in front of him, "keeping alive, in the older man’s mind, hopes that the sexual attraction was mutual".

He continued: "The woman was out of the way. Now the man he loved might be ready at last to be with him."

The court heard that Sutherland described himself as a singer-songwriter.

"What about actor? I suggest, ladies and gentlemen, he put on a very convincing performance in police interviews when he was playing the part of a man showing himself to be shocked and baffled by what was happening to him."

Sutherland appeared to be in tears for a minute and a half after being told the body was that of Mr Wilson, even though he knew all along. "His tears were a sham."

Mr Stewart compared the case to an Ian Rankin or Quentin Jardine story - except, he suggested, in a good detective novel the plot must contain an element of mystery. But in this case there was no mystery.

Defence QC Donald Findlay ended his plea to acquit Sutherland by re-running a clip from the musical Chicago, which he had shown during the trial, in which raunchy dancers sing: "He had it coming."

Mr Findlay had earlier told the court that in the days after Mr Wilson’s death, Ms Scott was heard singing and humming the song from Chicago.

Yesterday he told the jury: "You could not get a stronger case to show Tracy Scott killed Alan Wilson. Add to that the confession to the crime of killing him."

He reminded the jury that shortly before police discovered the bin bags, drunken Ms Scott muttered to a hotel barmaid: "I will get 20 years for it. I strangled him."

The lawyer said Sutherland had ended up in the dock because he had lied to try to protect his lover.