Defendant ‘fought’ with victim before hiding body

Deceased Alex Cameron as a young man. Picture: Vic Rodick
Deceased Alex Cameron as a young man. Picture: Vic Rodick
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A MAN has told a court how he battered his brother-in-law to death with a sledgehammer and an axe.

Jimmy Smith, 58, has confessed to killing 67-year-old Alex Cameron at West Cairns Farm, Kirknewton, but denies murder and claims self-defence.

Smith told the jury that Mr Cameron had arrived at the farm at around 11.30am on Monday, January 19 and had immediately started an argument with him.

He claimed Mr Cameron, whose body was found in a shallow grave, had threatened to “shoot that cow”, referring to Smith’s wife Helen.

Giving evidence in his own defence at the High Court in Livingston yesterday, Smith said: “He just went nuts; totally crazy – really scary crazy. Really violent angry.

“He just ran at me and put his hand up behind his head with a bag of tools and swung it at my head.

“It was at my right shoulder. I grabbed it with my right hand and swung it over my body. It connected with Mr Cameron.

“I thought he was going to kill me. There was no doubt about that.

“He said he was going to kill Helen and he came at me and tried to hit me on the head with the bag. I was defending myself. There wasn’t any decision made or anything like that. It just happened.”

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Smith said he then grabbed the six-kilo fencing mallet he had just rolled on top of and swung it towards Mr Cameron.

He said: “I couldn’t hit him. It just flew out of my hand.” Asked if the weapon had struck Mr Cameron, he said: “I’ve no idea, I didn’t have my glasses on. They went flying when I fell on my back.”

Smith went on: “He was getting on his hands and knees. I was still on my knees. I just turned around and picked up that [a log splitter axe] and hit him a couple of more times with the splitter.

“He just went down. He stayed down. That’s when I stood up and I collapsed back down on the ground.

“There was no blood. I thought he was unconscious. I got my glasses and got a bit of string out of the digger and grabbed Alex’s hands and tied them up because I thought he was going to get back up.

“I started to tie his leg to his hand. I tied one leg and I was going to tie the other leg.

“That’s when I realised he was dead.”

Smith said he then tied electrical wire round Mr Cameron’s wrists and lifted the body with a chain attached to the bucket of a mechanical digger.

He swung the body into the stable block then shut the door and hid Mr Cameron’s van further up the farmyard before his wife Helen returned home.

He said the whole incident took just half an hour.

The jury has been told Mr Cameron suffered multiple fractures and died quickly from “blunt force head trauma”.

Smith also sobbed loudly as he told how he had to have his sick donkey put down by a vet three days after the killing.

His defence counsel Murray Macara put to him: “It might seem you’re a bit more upset by the donkey than about Mr Cameron.” Smith replied: “I loved that wee donkey.”

The trial continues.