Murder accused sobs over death of donkey

A MAN who has admitted battering his brother in law to death with a sledgehammer and an axe broke down in the witness box yesterday … over the death of his pet donkey.

The scene where Alex Cameron was killed. Picture: Vic Rodrick

Jimmy Smith sobbed loudly as he told about having to have the sick animal put down by a vet three days after he battered Alex Cameron to death at his remote West Lothian farm.

His defence counsel Murray Macara put to him: “It might seem you’re a bit more upset by the donkey than about Mr Cameron.” Smith replied: “I loved that wee donkey.”

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The bizarre exchange happened as Smith, 58 gave evidence in his own defence at the “manure pile” murder trial at the High Court in Livingston.

He has confessed to killing 67-year-old convicted drug dealer Mr Cameron at West Cairns Farm, Kirknewton, on 19 January this year, but denies it was murder. He has lodged a special plea of self defence, claiming he was attacked first.

Smith angrily rejected suggestions by Jim Keegan, prosecuting, that he was guilty of “an act of supreme callousness” by calling the dead man’s phone two days after he had beaten him to death.

After hearing a recording of the message he left on Mr Cameron’s voicemail, Smith agreed that his first words were: “Ah sh*t, that phone works.”

With an image of Mr Cameron’s battered and trussed body lying in a shallow grave displayed on court TV screens, Mr Keegan said to him: “I’m prepared to accept you were keeping things from Helen [Smith’s wife], but you didn’t expect the phone to work.

“You went on to ask after the health of a man you bludgeoned to death and buried. That’s an act of supreme callousness isn’t it?

“You’re quite a callous killer, weeping over a donkey when you can treat another human being in a manner that you’ve just seen on the screen.”

Smith claimed he was unable to explain why he had made the comment on the phone message and dismissed the “callous killer” accusation as “your theory”.

Earlier he told the jury Mr Cameron had arrived at the farm at around 11:30am on Monday 19 January and had immediately started an argument with him.

He claimed Mr Cameron had threatened to “shoot that cow” and her dogs, referring to Helen Smith.

Smith said: “He just went nuts; totally crazy – really scary crazy. Really violent angry. He just ran at me and put his hand up behind his head with a bag of tools and swung it at my head.

“It was at my right shoulder. I grabbed it with my right hand and swung it over my body. It connected with Mr. Cameron.

“I thought he was going to kill me. There was no doubt about that.”

The trial, before Lord Matthews, continues.