Edinburgh police condemn actions of violent thug behind Grassmarket attempted murder bid

Police have condemned the actions of a violent criminal who tried to murder two women and serious assaulted a man who came to their aid.

Wednesday, 19th June 2019, 12:39 pm
Peter Cameron. Pic: Police Scotland

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday 18th June, Peter Cameron pled guilty to the attacks, on one of the female victims and the male victim. He was found guilty of the attack on the other woman.

The incidents all took place outside a hotel on the Grassmarket in the early hours of Thursday, November 8th last year, while the women were out having a cigarette.

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The 38-year-old approached the women, aged 60 and 58, as they stood within a vennel area and after briefly engaging them in conversation he returned with a knife and began assaulting the pair.

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Cameron stabbed tourist Bernadette Lester 10 times in a four-second burst of violence as she stood outside her hotel with her friend Gillian Clarke.

Mrs Clarke was then stabbed twice in the cheek and sustained injuries to her tongue and mouth as Cameron turned to target her.

The friends were getting ready to return to Northern Ireland after a short break in the city.

In a statement released today, police said both were left with serious injuries following the attack, which could have been more serious, had a 37-year-old male employee from the hotel not come to their aid.

As a result, this man was also assaulted, sustaining an injury to his hand during a struggle with Cameron.

A robust investigation was carried out by Edinburgh Division’s Gayfield CID and Cameron was arrested and charged during the same evening of the incident.

Detective Sergeant Gavin Howat from Gayfield CID said: “This was a particularly violent attack, which Cameron carried out on two complete strangers and had it not been for the courageous intervention of the member of staff from the hotel, he could have been facing a murder trial.

“Both women sustained serious injuries to their bodies and while physically they have now recovered, the psychological impact of this attack may take much longer to heal. The male victim also sustained a painful, but thankfully not serious injury to his hand as a result of his struggle with Cameron.

“We treated this incident with the utmost seriousness and as a result of inquiries carried out within the city centre, Cameron was swiftly arrested and charged.

“Tackling violent crime remains one of our top priorities and whenever offences like this arise we will use all resources at our disposal to bring those responsible to justice.”

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday, judge Lady Scott deferred sentence on Cameron for the preparation of a background report and risk assessment until next month.

Lady Scott said she was concerned about the potential risk that Cameron posed to the public and he was detained in custody.

During the trial Cameron admitted attempting to murder Mrs Lester by repeatedly striking her on the head, neck and body with the knife to her severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of her life on November 8 last year at a vennel beside the hotel.

He also admitted assaulting hotel worker Neil Robertson, who went to the aid of the women, by striking him with the knife to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

Cameron, who has an extensive criminal record for violence, further admitted assaulting Mrs Clarke to her severe injury and permanent disfigurement by striking her on the head with the weapon, but denied attempting to murder her. A jury unanimously convicted him of the murder bid today.

Unemployed Cameron, of Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, was acquitted of further charges of illegal possession of the knife and attempting to pervert the course of justice by disposing of the weapon and items of clothing after the attacks after the Crown withdrew the charges.

The knife was found dumped in a bin in Johnstone Terrace with blood traces from the women victims.

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