Man admits killing farmer who had crime gang links

James Smith went on trial at the High Court in Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

James Smith went on trial at the High Court in Livingston. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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RELATIVES of a man killed and buried on a remote farm have watched a distressing video of his body being exhumed from a makeshift grave.

The time-lapse film, screened at the High Court in Livingston yesterday, showed police digging up the remains of Alexander Cameron on his farm in West Lothian.

Relatives of the deceased were warned in advance by judge Lord Matthews that they might find the images upsetting.

In the film, forensic archaeologists were seen gradually uncovering Mr Cameron’s body, which was fully-clothed with the arms and legs bound with ligatures.

According to evidence agreed by the prosecution and the defence, the 67-year-old’s last resting place was concealed under a pile of manure and paving stones.

A postmortem gave the cause of death as “blunt force trauma to the head”.

Mr Cameron’s erstwhile brother-in-law James Smith, 58, admits killing Mr Cameron by repeatedly striking him on the head with an axe and a hammer or similar implements.

But he denies that the killing at the victim’s West Cairns Farm, near Kirknewton, between January 19 and 25 this year was murder.

He has lodged a special defence of self-defence, claiming the deceased attacked him first and threatened to shoot his wife, Helen Smith.

Smith also pleaded not guilty to attempting to defeat the ends of justice by tying Mr Cameron’s arms and legs and burying his remains at the farm.

The Crown has conceded that Mr Cameron had links to various serious and organised crime groups in Scotland’s Central Belt and connections “to do with Liverpool gangs”.

Mr Cameron was sentenced to six years in prison for being concerned in the supply of controlled drugs and had allegedly said he would have to sell the farm – which the accused and his wife were renting from him – so he could pay off a £525,000 compensation order under Proceeds of Crime.

It emerged in evidence that Mr Cameron was seen arriving at his farm on January 19 by a police surveillance team who were monitoring his movements.

But they went off duty at 4pm and his family reported him missing several days later.

The jury heard that when police officers went to interview Smith on January 25, he indicated where the body was buried and put two letters on the kitchen table, one marked “Police” and the other marked “Helen”.

He told officers: “I’m glad it’s over. I think that’s what you’re here for.”

He admitted that he had killed Mr Cameron, buried his body on the farm and disposed of his white Citroen Berlingo van in Edinburgh.

He then went to a corner of the kitchen and pointed to a large axe and a sledge hammer, stating: “I picked up these and just started to hit him with them. They were going to shoot Helen. We were tired of threats.”

The trial continues.