Attack victim asks: How could killer become carer?

Chris Gilruth. Picture: Justin Spittle
Chris Gilruth. Picture: Justin Spittle
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A FORMER friend of a carer who killed his frail flatmate has claimed he had a “dark side” and a history of violent behaviour.

Live-in carer Andrew Harvey battered Christopher Gilruth to death in their Roseburn Terrace flat last May.

Harvey, 34, admitted culpable homicide at the High Court in Edinburgh earlier this week, and will be sentenced next month.

His chaotic background – including a period in council homeless accommodation – has prompted questions about how he ended up as a carer.

Damon Libby, who lived with Harvey in a homeless hostel in Crewe Road Gardens in 2007, said he had been “horrified” to read about the attack on Mr Gilruth, who suffered complex health problems including emphysema. Mr Libby, now a professional photographer based in London, claimed he had been assaulted by his former friend but charges were never brought.

He described Harvey as a “likeable personality” and drinking buddy – but he cut ties with him after an incident in the city centre.

He said: “We were out drinking, and walking along Princes Street. I think I must have said something that aggravated him. He started smacking me in the head. I was on the ground. I knew there was CCTV and I called police to tell them what happened, but they said they couldn’t identify him. He was quite charming but he’s got this really bad dark side to him. I didn’t realise how dark it was.”

Police Scotland said there was no record of assault charges against Harvey, although a spokesman could not provide details on whether he had been a suspect in any crimes up until his arrest last year.

Mr Libby, 46, said he was still in shock after reading about Tuesday’s High Court hearing. He said: “I saw his photo, and then I thought, ‘what has he done now?’. I couldn’t believe it.

“It said that he was working as a carer. I thought to myself, ‘how in God’s name?’ He has got a really troubled background. How was he allowed to be a carer of a vulnerable person? He grew up in a broken home, he was always in trouble. It’s really tragic.”

Harvey moved in with Mr Gilruth several years ago, and was paid be his unofficial carer. The 53-year-old was not on the city council social work radar for home care and therefore Harvey was not subject to any official checks. Carers working for local authorities or agencies are required to be vetted for criminal records and character references.

The court heard that Harvey launched the attack on Mr Gilruth shortly after telling a neighbour that he “felt like whacking him”.

Later that day, officers were called to the flat for a second time – to find Mr Gilruth lying dead on the bathroom floor with 33 injuries.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com