Man in court accused of murdering cousins at family vigil

A man appeared in court today accused of murdering two cousins at a family vigil for a teenager who is feared dead after plunging from cliffs.

Robert Stratton appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court accused of murdering David Sorrie, 32, and Julie McCash, 43.

He faced a further charge of attempting to murder Wendy McKinney during the incident as well as assaulting his partner Lee Kinney on various occasions that day.

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It is understood they were found dead outside an address in Drumlanrig Drive, Dundee, at around 6.30am on Sunday.

They had been at the address for a family gathering after Julie’s nephew, Ralph Smith, 18, fell from cliffs in Arbroath on Saturday afternoon.

He is missing feared dead and searches for him along the Angus coastline were continuing tonight.

Stratton, 42, of Drumlanrig Drive, Dundee, was detained on Sunday and charged with the two murders later that night.

Today, he appeared in private on petition at Dundee Sheriff Court facing a total of four charges.

They allege that on various occasions on Sunday at an address on the same street as he lives in he assaulted his partner Lee Kinney, repeatedly seized her by the body and pushed and pulled her, pushed her against a wall, seized her neck, threw her to the ground, picked her up and carried her away all to her injury.

Stratton is then alleged to have murdered Julie McCash by striking her on the body with a knife.

The 42-year-old is then alleged to have attempted to murder Wendy McKinney by running towards her whilst brandishing two knives and attempting to strike her on the body with the knives.

Finally, Stratton is alleged to have murdered David SOrrie by running towards him while brandishing the knives and attempting to strike him with them on the body before he pursued him and struck him on the body, killing him.

Solicitor advocate Jim Laverty, for Stratton, made no motion for bail during a brief hearing.

Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC continued the case for further examination and remanded Stratton in custody meantime.

He is expected to appear in court again next week.

A large cordon was thrown up around the scene with a heavy police presence in the area as a forensic examination was carried out.

A blue forensics tent was erected on the road outside one property before being moved to another location nearby in the middle of the afternoon.

Officers in white suits carried out their own investigations while locals were briefly allowed into the cordon
 to lay flowers close to the scene.

A local resident, who asked not to be named, said: “By 8am the street was packed with emergency services.

“We don’t know who is involved yet - we’ve just been told two people have died.

“It’s a horrible incident.

“There are some issues in this area but serious violence isn’t usually one of them.”

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, said: “There will be a strong Police presence in the area while our investigation continues and I would like to thank the local community in advance for their patience.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to stress that this has been a contained and isolated incident. There has been no threat to the wider public at any stage.

“I would also urge anyone with information to please contact Police, likewise anyone who saw or heard anything in the area that could be of assistance. Please contact Police as soon as possible on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you would prefer to remain anonymous.”

Police today said searches for missing Ralph would continue and issued a description of him.

Chief Inspector David McIntosh said: “We have carried out extensive multi-agency searches of the coastline for Ralph over the weekend and these will continue today, with support from the Police Scotland Air Support Unit and specialist Police Scotland Search Teams.

“On Saturday, Ralph was wearing a blue jacket, blue jeans and blue and red trainers and he is described as being five feet, one inch in height, with short black hair and blue eyes.

“We know Arbroath Cliffs continues to be a popular area for walking and whilst we ask the public to report any information that could assist us with our search for Ralph, please be mindful of your own safety and do not put yourself in any danger. Our specialist search teams have the appropriate training and equipment to carry out searches of the water and coastline. If you have any information, please contact 101 or speak to any police officer.”