East Lothian teacher claims disabled author used her family as “a project” for his book
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An East Lothian teacher told a court a disabled author used her family as “a project” for his novel about a stroke victim who targets his neighbours after developing magical powers.
Catriona Henderson, 45, said she was left “scared and worried” after discovering David Aston had written a book that features a character who develops superpowers and seeks revenge on nearby residents.
Ms Henderson made the claims while giving evidence against neighbours David and Jacqueline Aston who are alleged to have carried out a hate campaign against her family at a plush estate in North Berwick.
The couple are alleged to have spread malicious rumours that Ms Henderson and her partner Stuart McMorris, 46, were drug dealers, repeatedly filmed them and deliberately soaked their children with a sprinkler. Court papers also state the Astons made reports to various authorities Ms Henderson was abusing and neglecting her children and that they threw shards of glass and compost onto their neighbour’s property.
On Friday, Ms Henderson, a high school teacher, told the trial during the alleged hate campaign she was made aware David Aston, 55, had posted details about his self-published novel on his LinkedIn page. The book centres on a stroke victim called Dave who develops superpowers and sets out “dealing with the local neighbourhood” after residents “decided that he was not welcome anymore”.
Aston, a former chartered accountant, penned A Stroke of Fortune after he suffered serious injuries including brain trauma and a massive stroke following a motorway crash 10 years ago.
Ms Henderson told the court: “My first thought was he was speaking about us. It crossed my mind we were some some sort of project for the novel.
“It was just so disturbing. The content of the book was about us. We were really scared and worried about what kind of people they were.”
Ms Henderson told the court the Astons had repeatedly made “frivolous” complaints about her to the police, the NSPCC and local MP Kenny MacAskill. She said East Lothian Council alone had received 140 complaints about her family in just five months during 2019.
The teacher also said she was left distraught when the General Teaching Council for Scotland [GTCS] placed her under investigation after receiving emails stating she was “an unfit mother” in April 2020. The messages claimed Ms Henderson had locked one of her children out in the cold without adequate clothing and that she and Mr McMorris regularly used drugs including laughing gas and crystal meth.
Previously the trial heard it had been agreed between the prosecution and the defence that the two complaints to the GTCS had come from “an individual who identified themselves as Jacqueline Aston from Blackadder Crescent, North Berwick.”
Ms Henderson also revealed she received a visit from Crimestoppers officers who had received an anonymous tip off the couple were dealing drugs from their £500,000 four-bedroom family home. When asked by prosecutor Clare Green who she believed was responsible the mother-of-two replied “Jacqueline Aston”.
The court also heard Jacqueline Aston, 57, had made a complaint of threatening behaviour to the police against Mr McMorris in 2019 but no charges were ever brought. Ms Henderson told the trial the police, the GTCS and East Lothian Council’s children’s services investigations had all been abandoned after finding no foundation to the allegations.
The trial in front of Sheriff John Cook is due to continue next year.