Blair Logan pleads guilty to Milngavie house fire murder
A man has admitted murdering his brother and attempting to murder his brother's girlfriend in a New Year's Day house fire.
Blair Logan poured petrol on his younger brother Cameron, 23, and the bed he was sharing with Rebecca Williams as they slept at their family home in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, in the early hours of January 1 this year.
Ms Williams was rescued from the fire and treated in hospital, while Logan’s parents were treated for smoke inhalation.
Logan, 27, pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and attempted murder at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday.
He had been arrested two weeks after the fire amid a major Police Scotland investigation.
After his arrest, Logan told police: “I didn’t want to kill him.”
Defence lawyer Shelagh McCall QC said Logan showed “wicked recklessness” but did not intend to kill his brother.
He was said to have “felt physically sick at the whole thing”.
Logan has been subject to two psychiatric reports which concluded there was not sufficient evidence for a plea of diminished responsibility.
Ms McCall said there were “unusual traits” in Logan’s personality and that he had a lack of understanding of the impact of his actions on other people.
Lady Scott asked for a social worker report and set a sentencing date for August 11 at the High Court in Livingston.
Advocate Depute Alex Prentice said the accused admitted pouring petrol “with the intention of maiming or crippling” his brother.
The attack was said to be in retaliation for a recent incident at the house when his brother had punched him.
Logan told detectives he took the petrol from a church garage a month and a half before the fire and stored it in his bedroom.
The court heard that the two brothers had a “hostile” relationship and Logan told police they had not spoken since the death of their grandmother in 2013.
On the night of the fire, Cameron and Rebecca had arranged to stay the night at the family home and his mother Catherine set up an inflatable mattress for them in the living room.
They returned from a party at around 4am and went to sleep.
At around 7.15am, Mrs Logan was woken by the family dog whining and went downstairs, where she saw a figure in dark clothing standing inside the living room.
Rebecca also saw a man in the room, holding something that was on fire, and she and Cameron both screamed.
Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, told the court: “Catherine Logan then heard Cameron roar in surprise, shock and fear, before the accused made a jerking motion with his arm as if throwing something.
“The accused then ran from the living room and went out the front door.
“Catherine Logan slammed the door behind him, shouting something like ‘get the hell out of my house’, still not knowing who it was.
“When she turned back towards the living room she saw ‘orange and crackling’ and the room turning black. She also heard Cameron and Rebecca screaming.”
She tried to open the door to the room without success and ran out of the house to ask neighbours for help, shouting to her husband to warn him.
Rebecca managed to roll onto the floor and crawl out of the room into the kitchen where she was not able to open the back door, and put her head in the fridge to protect herself from the fire.
Mr Logan senior tried to get into the living room but was beaten back by the intensity of the smoke and flames.
He managed to get out of the house, before he and neighbour John Weir rescued Rebecca from the kitchen.
She was then passed into the care of ambulance crews and taken to hospital, as were Mr and Mrs Logan.
Ms Williams suffered burns to her arms and face, and needed a skin graft on one of her hands.
She also suffered damage to her throat, vocal cords and lungs and has undergone surgery four times, including a tracheotomy procedure.
She may not be able to return to work as a broadcast journalist due to the damage caused.
The tracheostomy may be permanent, and the potential long-term damage to the lungs is not known.
Mr Logan’s parents were treated for the effects of smoke inhalation and discharged that day.
Police seized a computer from the accused’s bedroom which showed he had carried out internet searches from October 2016 looking for information on burns victims, one real fire death and video clips showing the effects of severe burning on people.
The 27-year-old admitted killing his brother during a police interview on January 13.
During the interview he told police: “It was not my intent to kill him but I did do it.”
When charged with the attempted murder of Ms Williams, he said: “I thought she was out of the room”, and added: “I did not wish to murder my parents.”
In mitigation, Ms McCall said two psychiatric reports had been carried out on her client, one for the Crown and one for the defence.
Both said that he had a number of features consistent with an autistic spectrum disorder, but also a number of features inconsistent with such a diagnosis.
She said: “Neither says he suffers from a disorder in those terms.
“He has a lack of ability to understand the impact of his behaviour on other people.”
She added: “The conclusion of both psychiatrists is that there is nothing sufficient to make a plea of diminished responsibility.”
Ms McCall said he did not envisage that his brother would be killed, saying: “He believed his brother would simply roll over and douse out the flames, suffering only maiming.”
Detective Superintendent Allan Burton, from Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Teams, said: “Today marks the end of an unusual and complex investigation which has left a family utterly devastated as a result of Blair Logan’s actions.
“A mother and father have lost both of their sons and a young woman has lost her partner, in a truly incomprehensible and tragic set of circumstances.
“This investigation involved a team of specialist officers that worked around the clock to piece together the events that led up to the fire being started on New Year’s morning, resulting in the death of Cameron Logan.
“This was undoubtedly a very distressful crime which took place right in the heart of Milngavie, and the support of the local community, as well as the information provided by members of the public who were in the surrounding area that morning, were absolutely vital in helping us trace the person responsible.”