Perthshire man jailed for 10 years for murder of lorry driver friend

A BUSINESSMAN who battered a friend to death before burying his body in a field was jailed for 10 years today.

Thomas Pryde, 38, attacked Adam Alexander with a metal bar after he "lost the plot" in a fight at the victim's home in Errol, Perthshire, more than a decade ago.

The father-of-one was finally brought to justice after confessing the 1999 crime to his wife during a drunken holiday row years later.

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He showed police where he said he buried the lorry driver's body in Perthshire but the remains have never been found.

Pryde, from Scone, Perthshire, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of culpable homicide.

He was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh today for what judge Lord Bracadale called a "most disturbing crime".

The judge told Pryde: "You went to the house of Mr Alexander, where you got into an argument with him over a transaction and in his back garden you started fighting with him.

"In the course of that, you hit him repeatedly with an iron bar and killed him.

"You then put his body in your car, drove home to get a shovel, drove to another place and buried him on waste ground.

"This happened in 1999 and to this day the body of Mr Alexander has never been found, despite efforts which you have at least made – and continue to make – to assist in that regard.

"The anxiety which his disappearance must have caused to his family, and years of not knowing what happened to him, and now the knowledge that his body lies somewhere on waste ground, must all be very hard to bear."

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He said the victim's mother was to be praised for her "fortitude".

The judge said the killing of Mr Alexander alone would merit a lengthy prison sentence, as would disposing of his body.

Taken together, they amounted to a "most serious crime", said Lord Bracadale.

He told Pryde he would have been jailed for 14 years if he had not pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Mr Alexander was last seen on the High Street near his cottage on November 14, 1999, the day he was killed.

He was reported missing by a friend who went to his home four days later and found no sign of the long-distance lorry driver.

The court heard how Pryde's wife went to police after his confession during a break on the Greek island of Zante.

He became "extremely drunk" one evening in May 2006 and told her he had "done a terrible thing" some years previously.

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She went to police in January 2007, prompting an investigation to get under way.

Pryde, who is now separated from his wife, was said to have been aware that she was going to the police.

He initially denied the killing but then admitted the crime during a police interview in September 2007.

The drainage contractor told officers: "I just completely lost the plot."

Defence counsel Ian Duguid QC told the court previously that the fight broke out when Mr Alexander threatened Pryde's family.

He had gone to the cottage to pay Mr Alexander for a motorcycle he had agreed to buy from him.

They ended up assaulting each other in a disagreement over the disposal of some computer equipment.

Pryde told police he grabbed a bar and attacked his victim before dumping the body.

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He told officers: "I took him along by the brickworks and buried him. It's never been out of my mind."

The court heard how inquiries revealed he had told friends back in 2003 and 2004 that he had killed Mr Alexander, saying he had "done Adam" and "it was a case of me or him".

Pryde was already serving a five-year jail sentence for firing shots at a businessman's home in a dispute over money in 2004.

Mr Alexander's mother was said to have been devastated by the loss of her son and the fact that she has been denied a proper burial site to visit.

Police last month said that any new information relating to the location of Mr Alexander's remains would be followed up.

Detective Chief Superintendent Roddy Ross, of Tayside Police, said: "The case has had a terrible effect on all those it has touched, but particularly Trisha Bremner (Mr Alexander's mother).

"It's my view that there might be someone out there with a piece of information that could assist us in finding Mr Alexander's remains.

"We would appeal to that person to come forward and we'll evaluate that information. It's not finished by any means."