Killer said armed men forced him into fraud

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A CONVICTED killer told police he had been abducted outside his home in Edinburgh by two armed men, before being forced to carry out a £5800 bank fraud.

Meldrum Hazell, 50, was fined £300 after he admitted defrauding the Bank of Scotland in Midstocket Road, Aberdeen, in March 2010 by using a business cheque falsely made out in his name.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard yesterday that police did not believe his claims that he was forced to carry out the crime, and were not investigating the claim.

Hazell, of Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, was jailed for life at the High Court in Edinburgh in 1994 after being convicted of killing a man by stabbing him and throwing him out of a Capital tenement building.

He later appealed, saying he did not get a fair trial because he was deaf and could not understand the questions put to him. The appeal was thrown out.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard Hazell went into the bank and used a business cheque to transfer £5895 into his own account.

Fiscal depute Sandy Hutchinson said: “From the bank account he withdrew £1200 and attended two further banks and withdrew £1200.”

But the bank became suspicious of the activity on Hazell’s account and they contacted the owner of the business named on the cheque. The owner stated the cheque was not genuine and police were contacted.

Officers later went to his house in Edinburgh and he was taken to a police station.

Hazell, who became deaf at the age of four, admitted the fraud through a sign language interpreter.

His defence solicitor Graham Morrison said Hazell gave a very full and frank interview to the police.

He said: “He said he had left his flat in Edinburgh. Out in the stairwell he was grabbed by two men who had weapons. He had never seen them before.

“He was put in a car and taken to Aberdeen from Edinburgh.”

Mr Morrison said when they arrived in Aberdeen, Hazell claimed he was told to go to the bank with the cheque, and told to withdraw the money.

The court heard Hazell gave no explanation as to why he did not alert the bank staff to his situation as he had “ample opportunities” to do so.

The court was told the Bank of Scotland had to reimburse the business, which was not named in court.

Sheriff Ian Duguid fined Hazell £300.

Hazell was 33 when he was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh for life in 1994 after being convicted of stabbing John Sutherland, 48, to death in a flat in Peffermill Court.

gedwards@edinburghnews.com