Farm killer wrote letter of confession to police

West Cairns Farm, near Kirknewton. Picture: Comp
West Cairns Farm, near Kirknewton. Picture: Comp
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A MURDER confession describing how a man repeatedly battered his brother-in-law to death with a large hammer has been read out to a jury.

The jury were shown pictures of a heavy sledgehammer and a long-handled, single-bladed axe with a hammer head, recovered by police from the remote West Lothian farm murder accused Jimmy Smith rented from his sister’s partner Alex Cameron.

Alex Cameron, pictured in 1974.

Alex Cameron, pictured in 1974.

PC Scott Dickson said he spotted the weapons in the kitchen-diner of West Cairns Farm, near Kirknewton, West Lothian, when he visited as part of a police search party looking for Mr Cameron’s body.

He said Smith, 58, had put two envelopes – one marked “Police” and the other “Helen” – on the table in front of him.

He opened the envelope marked police and read what turned out to be a signed confession by Smith setting out how he had allegedly used the weapons to kill Mr Cameron.

Pc Dickson read the two-page letter – full of misspellings and punctuation errors – out in court. In it Smith admits killing Mr Cameron at the farm on January 19 this year.

He claimed landlord Mr Cameron had arrived “screaming abuse” and shouting that he and his wife were to “Get the f*** out”.

Smith wrote that when his dog Lightning, a black bull mastiff, had come into the kitchen Mr Cameron had gone “berserk” and had threatened to go and get a gun to kill Smith’s wife Helen and her dogs.

He then described how Mr Cameron had swung at him with a bag containing a chainsaw, causing him to fall over, and he said he feared Mr Cameron would kill him. He then watched as Mr Cameron “lost his footing”.

At this point Smith described the killing, writing: “[I] managed to get up on to my knees. Seeing two large hammers close to me I reached out and grabbed both, swinging one around on the back of his head.

“Pulling myself up I then went into a frenzied sort of numbness and was striking him several times on the head.

“All that I can remember thinking was: ‘I can’t let him shoot Helen’.”

Smith said in the letter he did not call the police because that would mean being arrested and leaving his wife to “face up to all his gangster pals” alone.

He said he concealed Mr Cameron’s van behind the kennels and tied the dead man’s hands with rope before dragging the body into the stable and covering the head with an old coat.

He said his wife didn’t know what he’d done at this stage, and said: “My mind is in all direction [sic] due to this and ill health and I haven’t slept more than one or two hours every night for months now because of the stress of this place.”

Smith denies murder and has lodged a special plea of self defence, claiming the deceased attacked him first. The trial continues.

newsen@edinburghnews.com