Man guilty of murder after running pub landlord over in his wife's car
Steven Curran, 47, was assaulted and then run over by an angry customer in the car park of his pub in the East Lothian village of Whitecraig.
The customer, Lee McNamara, 24, had claimed that he did not know Mr Curran had been lying at the back of the vehicle, but a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh rejected his plea to be convicted of the lesser crime of culpable homicide and found him guilty of murder.
After seeing McNamara being led away to await sentencing next month, a tearful Jill Curran explained her decision to sit through the evidence in the trial, including film from CCTV cameras which had captured the incident.
"I had to know exactly what happened to him on the night he died," said Mrs Curran, a mother of two daughters, Abbie, 14, and Lucy, six.
"What I saw was a sickening and cowardly attack on an innocent man, and this will stay with me for the rest of my life. There are no words that can explain the devastating impact that my husband's death has had on our family, and in particular our two daughters. They meant the world to Steven, and he worked so hard to give them a good life."
Mrs Curran added: "To me, Steven was a larger-than-life character. He was well liked, and he was always the centre of attention wherever he went. Most of all, though, he was a loving husband and a proud father, as well as a much-loved son and brother. His spirit lives on in our two beautiful daughters, and he will be sorely missed by all of us."
Mr Curran ran the Dolphin Inn in Whitecraig, where McNamara lived. On 20 October last year, McNamara went to the pub to watch football on television. During the evening, there was banter between the men and at one point, McNamara tore up his own 10 note and placed the pieces on the bar. Mr Curran blew them on to the floor.
McNamara believed Mr Curran had been "winding him up" and decided to wait in the car park at closing time and ambush him. When Mr Curran emerged and walked towards his wife's Toyota Celica, which he was using that night, McNamara punched him to the ground and snatched the keys to the car. He gave Mr Curran a gratuitous kick, as he lay on the ground, and then jumped into the driver's seat.
McNamara claimed that he thought Mr Curran had stood up and walked back into the pub to phone the police. However, as the CCTV footage showed, he was still lying motionless at the rear of the vehicle. McNamara reversed over the body, dragging it underneath the car. He stopped momentarily, then drove forward, again with the body still beneath the car, and out of the car park.Mr Curran suffered multiple, fatal injuries to the chest.
McNamara headed south on the A1, but crashed at more than 100mph near Dunbar. He escaped serious injury and fled the scene on foot. Police established Mrs Curran was the owner of the car, and went to her home. She told officers that her husband had been using the car, and she was waiting on him to arrive home from work. The officers went to the Dolphin Inn, and found Mr Curran's body in the car park at the rear of the pub.
In the early hours of the morning, McNamara approached police at the scene of the car crash and admitted he had been the driver. He was taken to hospital, and informed that Mr Curran was dead. The court heard that McNamara burst into tears and kept repeating: "No." Charged with murder, he said: "I didnae mean to kill him, it was an accident."
In evidence to the jury, McNamara stated: "I thought he had got up and run back into the pub to phone the police."
After the jury returned a majority guilty verdict on the charge of murder, a cry of "Yes" went up from Mr Curran's family and friends.
The judge, Lady Clark, heard that McNamara had a string of previous convictions, including offences of assault and possessing a firearm, and motoring offences, although he did not have a full licence.
He will be given a mandatory life sentence for the murder.