Victim’s skull crushed with hammer, court hears

West Cairns Farm in West Lothian where Alex Cameron was killed. Picture: Vic Rodick
West Cairns Farm in West Lothian where Alex Cameron was killed. Picture: Vic Rodick
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A MEDICAL expert has given a murder trial jury graphic details of the horrifying head injuries suffered by a farm owner.

NHS Lothian consultant pathologist Dr Robert Ainsworth said that Alex Cameron’s skull had been crushed, probably with a single devastating blow from a large fencing hammer weighing six kilos.

The dead man also suffered a broken neck, multiple skull fractures, several broken ribs and numerous facial injuries including broken cheekbones, two black eyes and a smashed nose, the jury at the High Court at Livingston was told yesterday. Dr Ainsworth, 41, said he carried out a post-mortem on the 67-year-old and put the cause of death as “blunt force head trauma”.

He said Mr Cameron had probably died very soon after suffering the principal injury, which crushed the top of his skull and may have caused his spine to snap at the top in a “whiplash-style” movement.

Edited images of the horrific injuries were distributed to the jury prior to Dr Ainsworth giving evidence and the family of the deceased were warned that they might be upset by close-ups displayed on large screens.

Mr Cameron’s brother-in-law Jimmy Smith, 58 has admitted beating him to death with an axe and a sledgehammer at his then-home West Cairns Farm, Kirknewton, West Lothian, but denies murder.

He has lodged a special plea of self-defence, claiming Mr Cameron, who owned the farm, attacked him first on January 19 this year.

In other evidence yesterday, the jury heard that Smith’s DNA had been found on the shaft of a long-handled axe used in the killing.

Forensic scientist Juliet Riches revealed that swabs taken from the handle of the weapon proved a match for the DNA of the accused.

Mr Cameron’s body was found buried in a shallow grave filled with horse manure on January 25.

His arms and one leg had been trussed with rope and electrical wire and his fully clothed corpse had been covered with paving slabs and more organic matter.

The jury earlier heard evidence that Smith handed police a typed letter confessing to the killing and pointed out where the body was 

Cross-examined by defence counsel Murray Macara, Dr Ainsworth said it was “more likely than not” that the hammer caused the main injury to the top of Mr Cameron’s skull.

The trial continues.