Relatives left in the dark over murder of landlord

DETECTIVES fear the family of a murdered pub landlord will never know the reason why he was killed.

Lee McNamara, 24, is facing a life sentence after being found guilty yesterday of ambushing bar boss Steven Curran at the back of The Dolphin Inn in Whitecraig, East Lothian.

McNamara punched the 47-year-old father-of-two to the ground then stole the keys to his wife's Toyota Celica, which was parked nearby, and ran him over twice before fleeing the scene.

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McNamara made his getaway in the stolen car before crashing into the central reservation of the A1, near Dunbar.

The court heard that McNamara was taken for treatment at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and claimed to a nurse that he had been drinking with friends at the pub when Mr Curran was "winding them up".

In court, McNamara claimed the killing, which was caught on the pub's CCTV, was an "accident" but he was found guilty by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh of murdering Mr Curran on October 20, 2010.

Detectives today said the plasterer had never revealed any motive for the attack, which left Mr Curran with extensive chest injuries, including fractured ribs and breastbone and a collapsed lung.

A police source said: "From the CCTV, you can see that McNamara was more than aware of the position of Mr Curran's body. He reversed over Mr Curran, changed into first gear, and ran over him again. I don't think there was any way he couldn't have been fully aware of what he was doing.

"McNamara has never offered any reason why he did what he did. Nothing in the investigation suggested he had any issues with Steven Curran. McNamara's friends were also unable to suggest why he may have done it.

"McNamara was previously known to police and had a conviction for violence, but there was nothing to suggest that he was capable of murder.

"Mr Curran's family will have to live with this for the rest of their lives and may never find out why he did it."

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Officers found that McNamara had no history of treatment for psychiatric problems.

Detective Inspector John Peaston, from Dalkeith CID, said: "This was a senseless and brutal attack on an innocent man, which was motivated by no more than petty malice on the part of Lee McNamara.

"His actions have had a devastating impact on Mr Curran's family, and I would like to pay tribute to them for their courage during a harrowing ordeal."Mr Curran had run the village pub since 2004, and McNamara, of nearby Carberry Court, was a regular patron.

McNamara left the pub with two friends that evening and told Jasmine Read, 22, that he was going to "bang" the landlord as he headed towards the rear of the premises.

At around 11.45pm, Mr Curran locked up the rear door of the pub and walked to the car when McNamara ran up and punched him in the face.

CCTV footage shows Mr Curran fall to the ground and McNamara stealing the car keys and heading towards the vehicle.

Mr Curran can been seen moving slightly and McNamara ran back and kicked him, leaving his victim motionless.

McNamara reversed over his body, dragging it underneath the Toyota, before heading forward over him for a second time and driving off.

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The car was found abandoned by police following 999 calls. Officers went to the home of Mr Curran's wife, Jill, and she spoke of her worry that her husband was late coming back.

Officers went to the pub and found Mr Curran's body in the car park at 1.50am.

McNamara had wandered to a cottage after the crash and asked for the police to be phoned. He was traced at 4.20am and taken to the ERI after complaining of chest pains.

He told a nurse that he had been driving at about 120mph when the collision occurred and later burst into tears after being told Mr Curran was dead.

McNamara, who has previous convictions for assault, malicious mischief and for driving without a licence and insurance, had gone to the bar to watch football. Giving evidence, McNamara said there had been some banter with Mr Curran, adding: "Just the normal kind of thing."

He said: "I was going to wait for Stevie to come out. I was going to just have a fight with him. He was annoying me in the pub and making me feel silly."

McNamara said he did not mean to run Mr Curran over. He said that he had manoeuvred to get out the car park and felt "a wee shudder", but thought it was a wheel spinning.

Asked what Mr Curran had done to him, McNamara told the court: "Nothing really."

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Lady Clark of Calton deferred sentence until August 23 for background reports, but said: "Obviously there is only one punishment available."


THE widow of pub landlord Steven Curran has described how she watched the CCTV footage of the attack which killed him.

Jill Curran has been left to raise their daughters, Abbie and Lucy, following the murder of the Hearts fan outside his pub in October.

In a statement released after the guilty verdict against Lee McNamara, Mrs Curran said: "I made a decision to watch the CCTV footage of the attack because I had to know exactly what happened to him on the night he died.

"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 both meant the world to Steve and he worked so hard to give them a good life. Steve was well liked and he was always the centre of attention.

"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."