OAP murder trial: Husband ‘found wife on floor’

A HUSBAND yesterday told a murder trial of finding his wife of 60 years lying on the floor, badly injured and covered in blood when he returned home from shopping.
Eleanor Whitelaw was found at her home in Morningside Grove. Picture: Greg MacveanEleanor Whitelaw was found at her home in Morningside Grove. Picture: Greg Macvean
Eleanor Whitelaw was found at her home in Morningside Grove. Picture: Greg Macvean

Robert Whitelaw, 88, was giving evidence at the trial of Robert Buczek, 24, who denies murdering 85-year-old Eleanor Whitelaw at her home in Morningside Grove, Edinburgh, on July 11, 2014.

In evidence, at the High Court in Glasgow Mr Whitelaw told advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting: “I saw my wife lying on the floor covered in blood.”

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Mr Whitelaw, a retired chartered civil engineer, told the jury that he had gone shopping by bus to Waitrose and returned after 4pm.

He said he was surprised when he couldn’t get into the house as the front door was locked.

Mr Whitelaw said he went round the back of the house and in the back door which was unlocked.

The jury of 10 men and five women heard that he walked through the kitchen and into the morning room where he found his wife.

He said: “I took a cushion and put it under her head because I thought she had fainted after having a nose bleed.

“When I put the cushion down I realised it was more serious. I realised she had a cut to the side of her neck. I called for the ambulance service straightaway. I didn’t go far in the hall because it was full of blood.”

Mr Whitelaw was asked if he had noticed anything unusual before his wife was injured and replied: “Just two days before I saw a young man at the bus stop.

“He was looking at the house and looking at us. It attracted my attention.”

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The court heard that Mrs Whitelaw died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on July 28, last year.

The jury was shown a photograph of Mrs Whitelaw while she was undergoing treatment in hospital. She was lying on a bed with a a mask over her face and number of tubes attached to medical equipment.

Paramedic Kirstie Forsyth told the court that she and her colleague had rushed to the scene after being told Mrs Whitelaw had fallen.

But she said it was quickly obvious that her injuries had not come from a fall and the police were contacted.

She told prosecutor Mr Prentice: “Mrs Whitelaw was lying on her side, kind of scrunched up. I was very conscious she wasn’t moving and I couldn’t feel a pulse in her wrist, which raised my concerns about her blood loss.”

The court heard that the paramedics worked to stabilise Mrs Whitelaw before taking her to hospital by ambulance.

Mr Prentice asked Ms Forsyth: “Was she able to respond at all,” and she replied: “She was quite distressed and making noises, but was unable to speak.”

The prosecutor then asked: “Was she in pain?” and Ms Forsyth replied: “She seemed to be distressed.”

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A woman, who lived round the corner from the Whitelaw’s told the court of seeing a man in his twenties running from the direction of their home in the afternoon of July 11, last year, carrying a black plastic bag.

Janice Robertson, 51, said she and her daughter were sitting out in their front garden which is south- facing.

She said: “We were out in the garden from 3pm onwards. I was gardening and my daughter was drawing. I heard the sound of footsteps. It wasn’t jogging it was fast running. The area was quiet and there was no traffic.

Mrs Robertson told the jury that she saw the man for about three seconds and added: “When I told my husband about it that night. I said he could have been Eastern European., possibly something to do with the bone structure.”

The court heard that she went on holiday abroad the next day, but after hearing about an incident in Morningside Grove contacted the police while on holiday.

In court she identified the accused Buczek as the man she saw running that afternoon.

But , under-cross examination by defence QC Brian McConnachie she admitted that she had not identified Buczek at a police line-up.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.