Murderer claims jury misled by trial judge

A MAN jailed for killing a budding young footballer launched an appeal against his conviction yesterday, more than five years after being found guilty of the murder.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Brian Beattie, 38, claim the judge at the trial misdirected the jury.

Beattie was jailed for life after being convicted in 1998 of murdering 15-year-old Lawrence Haggart at the youngster’s home in Larbert, Stirlingshire.

The teenager had signed schoolboy forms with Celtic and was tipped for the top.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday, Donald Findlay, QC claimed Lord Dawson’s closing speech at the trial was "not adequate and amounted to a misdirection".

The trial, at the High Court in Edinburgh, heard how Beattie murdered Lawrence in March 1996, then tried to blame the victim’s younger brother, Dennis, for the crime.

Beattie has always maintained his innocence and claimed he was set up by Central Scotland Police detectives.

The initial police investigation following Lawrence’s death focused on Dennis - who was in the house at the time his brother was attacked - as a potential suspect.

It was only when a second police team was brought in that Beattie was arrested and charged with murder.

The appeal hearing, before Lords Cullen and Hamilton and Lady Cosgrove, continues.