Court erupts in violence at James Gatti killer's verdict
A team of police officers and security guards rushed to help Paul Beattie, 46, moments after jurors returned a guilty verdict to a charge of culpable homicide.
Beattie had been standing trial for the murder of his neighbour James Gatti at a house in Gilmerton, Edinburgh, last year.
But after the jury convicted him of the lesser charge of culpable homicide, relatives of Mr Gatti started shouting, swearing and screaming from the public benches.
The noise drowned out the jury spokesperson announcing the verdict.
After people shouted of “I can’t believe it” and “this doesn’t end here”, “You’re f*****g dead’ a man sprinted from the public benches and vaulted the wall separating the benches from the dock.
Security guards who sat beside Mr Beattie in the dock rushed to shield him from the man who was throwing punches and aiming kicks at him.
Around five police officers rushed into the dock alongside the macer, a court official who accompanies high court judges.
They spent approximately five minutes trying to restrain the man who spent a period of time trying to break free from their grip.
A number of police officers rushed into the court room in a bid to empty the court of Mr Gatti’s angry relatives amid concerns they could also enter the dock.
Lady Scott left the bench and jurors were sent to a room as the police restored order to the court building.
A female security guard, who was tasked with looking after Mr Beattie, wept and clutched her jaw following the incident. It is unclear whether she was injured during the altercation.
The man was dragged out of the court in handcuffs. His status is unknown at this point in time.
Following the incident, judge Lady Scott closed the court before reconvening around 20 minutes later.
Thanking the jurors for their service, Lady Scott told them that they would be given a phone number for counselling.
She also told them that they would be given taxis home.
She said: “I’m very sorry about what has happened. What has happened is shocking and I want to assure you that the police is dealing with it.
“We have taxis to get you home securely and you will be provided with a telephone number. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to phone and speak to somebody.”
The controversy arose on the seventh day of proceedings against Beattie, of Guardwell Glen, Edinburgh.
He denied murdering Mr Gatti following a party at the victim’s step mother Lorraine’s house in the same street.
The court heard Mr Beattie admit that he stabbed Mr Gatti following a confrontation at the party.
He denied murdering Mr Gatti. He said he acted to help his girlfriend Louise McCulloch, 35.
Beattie told the court that Louise was being assaulted by Mr Gatti. He said the dead man had his hands around Louise’s neck.
He told defence advocate Shelagh McCall QC: “I reached over and poked him with a knife.
“I wanted to give him a superficial cut. I didn’t want the knife to go all the way in.”
When Ms McCall asked him to explain his position, Mr Beattie said that he thought that if he inflicted a superficial wound on Mr Gatti, people would stop assaulting Louise.
He added: “I thought if they saw blood and if I said ‘he’s been stabbed’, they’d leave her alone.”
Mr Gatti later died in hospital from two stab wounds which he had sustained during the confrontation with Mr Beattie.
The court head earlier heard that Beattie and Ms McCulloch had been attending a party at Mr Gatti’s step mum Lorraine Cole’s house.
The couple brought two bottles of Malibu to the shindig.
But the court heard that Ms McCulloch got into a fight with women at the party because she thought that the rum based drink had been stolen.
The court heard that both Beattie and Ms McCulloch were asked to leave the party and were physically removed from the house.
Beattie admitted he’d been drinking heavily during the evening. He said when he returned to the property, he noticed Ms McCulloch wasn’t with him.
Beattie told the jury that he was concerned for his girlfriend’s safety and so he decided to return to Ms Cole’s house with a knife which he kept at his front door for “gardening” purposes.
Ms McCall asked Beattie how he felt about killing Mr Gatti.
He replied: “Very bad.”
She also asked him: “Did you intend to kill James Gatti?”
He replied: “No.”
She then asked: “Did you care if he lived or died.”
Prosecutors maintained Beattie’s position was ludicrous. They maintained that by returning to the scene with a knife was an indication that he was plotting murder.
However, Beattie lodged a special defence that he was acting in the defence of another.
Members of Mr Gatti’s family sat in the public benches disagreed. They believed Beattie had murdered their loved one.
Following the verdict, it emerged that Beattie had offered to plead guilty to a charge of culpable homicide at an earlier court hearing.
However, the Crown refused to accept the plea and the case went to trial.
Lady Scott adjourned proceedings for the court to obtain reports on Beattie’s character.
She added: “I am deferring sentence for reports. Please co-operate as much as possible with the these reports.”
Beattie will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on August 2 2018.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Bruce Coutts of Corstorphine CID said: “I want to extend my sincere condolences to James Gatti’s friends and family.
“Paul Beattie’s criminal and brutal actions resulted in James Gatti’s death and he has now been convicted.
“Although this conviction will not bring James back, I hope it will give his family some measure of closure.
“I would also like to pay tribute to my team who carried out a thoroughly professional and robust investigation in conjunction with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service that has resulted in this result at court today.”
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