Defendant’s lawyer says Shaun Woodburn launched ‘unprovoked attack’ before he died

Shaun Woodburn. Picture: contributed
Shaun Woodburn. Picture: contributed

THE LAWYER defending a youth accused of murder has told the trial the victim launched an “unprovoked attack” just before he sustained fatal injuries.

Derek Ogg QC, defending a 17-year-old youth accused of the murder, told the trial that Shaun Woodburn “decided to launch himself in a violent attack when he’d not been provoked or attacked”.

Shaun Woodburn

Shaun Woodburn

Mr Ogg was giving his closing speech on the 17th day of the trial. His client, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is accused of murdering Mr Woodburn by punching him, causing him to fall to the ground and kicking him on the head.

Mr Woodburn died from head injuries sustained in a major street disturbance outside Gladstone’s Bar in Leith in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Hibs star Danny Swanson previously told the trial that the youth had kicked Mr Woodburn’s head “like a football” as he lay motionless after being knocked out.

Mr Swanson had been enjoying a Hogmanay party at his dad’s bar with his long-time friend Mr Woodburn, a well-known junior footballer.

The youth denies murder but has admitted being involved in assaulting five other people on the streets of Edinburgh. One of his victims received multiple facial fractures after being punched as crowds gathered at the Meadows to watch the fireworks display.

Mr Ogg said it had been conceded by the Crown that there had been racial abuse shouted at the youths from another group in the street outside Gladstone’s.

He claimed that as the incident escalated there was an “armed, vicious attack on one youth by five men, all of them Swansons.”

This youth was Mohammed Zakariyah, who has admitted assaulting two people earlier night, making threats of violence and engaging in fights.

Mr Ogg said his client was “conscious of his friend being attacked”. He added, “He was a 16-year-old schoolboy and went to help his friend against five men who were armed.”

Mr Ogg again showed the jury an image from mobile phone video taken during the incident with Shaun Woodburn apparently throwing a punch.

The video, taken by barmaid Ayesha Innes, was of such poor quality that it cannot be seen if Mr Woodburn is aiming the punch at anybody.

However, Mr Ogg said, “Mr Woodburn launched a punch at somebody. He is not attacking thin air.

“He is seen standing with his arms folded not getting involved at first. He’s assessed the situation and has decided to launch himself in a violent attack when he’d not been provoked or attacked.

“He gets himself involved. He’s decided to launch an unprovoked attack.”

Mr Ogg said it must have been his client who was the target “as there is no other candidate”.

The judge Lady Stacey is expected to complete her charge to the jury tomorrow.