Law chief scarred for life after vicious and frenzied knife attack

A SENIOR Scottish legal official was left scarred for life in a “frenzied, vicious” knife attack by a masked man as he arrived home, a court has heard.

Leslie Cumming, 68, could have died from stab wounds to his body which narrowly missed vital organs, a doctor said.

Mr Cumming, who was chief accountant with the Law Society of Scotland, needed 40 stitches to his face after he was slashed in the attack, which happened in Edinburgh nearly six years ago.

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Dr Rachel Miller told the High Court in Edinburgh that she had examined Mr Cumming in hospital three days after the attack.

“The pattern and type of injuries were consistent with a sustained, frenzied, vicious attack with a sharp, pointed weapon such as a knife which could have had a serrated edge,” she said.

Robert Graham, 46, is on trial accused of attempting to murder Mr Cumming on 23 January, 2006, in a lane adjoining Ormidale Terrace, Murrayfield, Edinburgh.

It is alleged that, with his face partially masked, he repeatedly struck Mr Cumming on the head and body with a knife to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment, and to the danger of his life.

In a special defence, Graham stated that the offence was not committed by him but by a third party, whose name he did not know.

The court heard that a lane of garages ran to the rear of houses in Murrayfield Drive, where Mr Cumming lived.

Jurors were shown photographs taken by police of gates at the bottom of Mr Cumming’s garden which opened out on to the lane.

Alan Cowe, a senior identification officer, described a “trail of blood” from the bottom of the garden up to a vestibule at Mr Cumming’s door. Blood was also found in the lane outside the gate.

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Mr Cowe said he took possession of a Barbour jacket and a suit jacket, which a detective had told him the injured man had been wearing but which had been removed by ambulance personnel. A towel was also removed for forensic examination.

Dr Miller, a forensic medical examiner, said she had gone to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to examine Mr Cumming. The information she had been given by the police was that at about 5pm on 23 January, Mr Cumming had returned to his home by car.

“Thereafter, he was attacked by an unknown male wearing a balaclava and gloves and was cut to the face and body through clothing and a Barbour jacket. He fell to his knees, pulling the assailant towards him. The assailant walked away,” said Dr Miller.

She listed up to 40 injuries – cuts, stab wounds, scratches and bruises – found on Mr Cumming. About a dozen had been to the face and head. Three cuts had required 15, 13 and 11 sutures. He had been unable to open his left eye. Other injuries, such as “gaping” cuts, were spread over his arms and body.

Dr Miller said the wounds had left permanent scarring. It appeared that many of the injuries had been sustained while Mr Cumming was doubled up in “the defensive pose”.

The witness agreed with the prosecutor, Lesley Thomson, the Solicitor-General for Scotland, that stabbing wounds were near to vital organs.

“These injuries potentially put his life in danger,” suggested Ms Thomson.

Dr Miller replied: “They could have done, yes.”

Ms Thomson continued: “He could have died.”

Dr Miller said: “Yes.”

The trial, which is expected to last a week, continues.