Jurors have been urged to find a “powerful and compelling” case against a cabbie and convict him of murdering a private hire driver.
The prosecution argued that Stephen Nolan, 48, had deliberately driven over Ebrahim Aryaei Nekoo, 41, and inflicted massive crushing injuries.
However, Nolan’s lawyer submitted to the jury at the High Court in Edinburgh that, while there clearly had been a tragic death, no crime, let alone murder, had been proved.
Donald Findlay, QC, said the Crown’s allegations against Nolan needed him to be the only “villain of the piece” but Mr Aryaei Nekoo had been more than willing to have a confrontation.
Nolan, 48, of Redhall Place, Edinburgh, denies murdering Mr Aryaei Nekoo, 41, of Carrick Knowe Hill, Edinburgh, on 24 March last year in a car parking area near the Fords Road entrance of the city’s Saughton Park. It is alleged he repeatedly drove his black cab at him, struck him on the body, and drove over him.
The High Court in Edinburgh has heard that the two men clashed verbally at a filling station and then drove to the park. At the end of an incident lasting a mere 12 seconds, Nolan had driven from the park and Mr Aryaei Nekoo was left severely injured. He was found within a few minutes and attempts were made to save him but he died at the scene.
In his closing speech to the jury, the advocate-depute, Douglas Fairley, QC, reminded the jury that Nolan had gone to a police station after the incident, but not before he had visited his girlfriend’s house and had a smoke and a cup of coffee.
Nolan had told officers that Mr Aryaei Nekoo had produced a knife, and Nolan had jumped back in his cab and somehow it went over Mr Aryaei Nekoo.
“He said that ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ a knife would be found near to Mr Nekoo. So where is this knife? The evidence quite clearly demonstrates there was no such knife. It was nothing more than a lie. He invented the story about a knife and then he went to the police office to get his story in first,” said Mr Fairley.
He added that tyre tracks showed Nolan’s taxi had “accelerated hard” and had twice changed direction when facing the exit to the car parking area.
“He never once braked - not before, not as and not after driving over him. This was no accident,” claimed Mr Fairley.
It was a circumstantial case but the various strands of evidence made a “powerful and compelling case”.
Mr Fairley stated to the jurors: “You will be able to say, ‘I have no reasonable doubt. This was not an accident. This was murder’.”
For the defence, Mr Findlay said the word “tragedy” was probably overused in courts, but this trial was in every real sense the story of a tragic death.
“The question is: have the Crown proved that a crime was committed? That’s what this case is all about,” he suggested.
The prosecution would have the jury believe that Nolan alone was the villain of the piece, because it wanted the events in the car park to be viewed with a soured attitude towards him.
However, Mr Aryaei Nekoo had gone to the park for the simple reason that he wanted to, and had followed Nolan there after the incident at the filling station.
“It’s pretty clear they went there for some kind of confrontation...there was nothing to chose between these two men. Each chose separately and independently to go to the car park,” said Mr Findlay.
At some point, Mr Aryaei Nekoo was on the ground and the taxi went over him with “awful” consequences.
“There is no reliable evidence he was struck by the taxi and knocked to the ground. Could it be that what happened was he fell and the taxi went over him? The answer is yes. There is no evidence that shows beyond reasonable doubt that that did not happen,” said Mr Findlay.
It did not say much for Nolan that he left the scene, knowing something serious had happened.
“For that, you may criticise him, you may condemn him but you do not convict. We all make mistakes but that does not mean to say we commit a crime,” added Mr Findlay.
In relation to a knife, Mr Findlay said the impression may have been given of a massive police search, but the reality was eight officers taking 15 minutes and covering only a limited area.
“That search was woefully inadequate,” he alleged.
The trial continues.