Widow denies killing husband in remote cottage

Michelle Bathgate says she did not killer her husband Brian
Michelle Bathgate says she did not killer her husband Brian
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THE widow of a joiner found dead with a stab wound to the neck in his remote cottage has insisted she was not his killer.

Michelle Bathgate said she was convinced her husband, Brian, was murdered, but “can’t think” who could have killed the father of her four children as he had “no ­enemies”.

The 42-year-old spoke out after being hit with a second Asbo for allegedly terrorising neighbours in Haddington.

She claims that her behaviour spiralled out of control when she was at a low living with the stress of Brian’s death.

Her plea of innocence also comes as police said they were following a “positive line of inquiry” over the death, which is still being treated as “suspicious”.

Mr Bathgate, 45, was found dead in the blood-splattered living room of his cottage at Barney Mains Farm on the outskirts of Haddington on March 15 last year.

He had a knife wound to the neck. His wife was the last person to see him alive two days earlier.

Detective Chief Inspector Keith Hardie, who has been leading the ten-month-old investigation, said he expected to conclude his probe in “weeks rather than months” following detailed forensic work.

But Mrs Bathgate hit out at rumours circulating in her local community that she was involved in her husband’s death and said: “I had nothing to do with it. Why would I? We’d been together for 25 years. People say that we were estranged but we weren’t. We were getting back together.

“I was living at Barney Mains with Brian. When I last saw him he was happy. We were planning to go out together that night then I couldn’t reach him. Then I got a call telling me that he was dead.

“I believe that Brian was murdered but I can’t think of anyone who would have done it. Brian had no enemies. He was a lovely, placid guy who would help anyone in the world.

“He had no reason to kill himself and you don’t do something like that with a knife. Brian was not that type of person anyway.

“I know there are stories going round on Facebook about me and it’s difficult for my kids to see that. Me and Brian had problems but we were working them out. We just wanted to get on with our lives.

“I can’t get it out of my head what would have happened if me and the kids were there when Brian was killed. It could have been all of us who are dead. It makes me sick to think about it.”

Mrs Bathgate was hit with an antisocial behaviour order last week following complaints about her behaviour dating back to May last year, including intoxication, shouting and swearing, and repeatedly banging or kicking doors at a property on Market Street where she lives.

The interim order bans her from shouting, swearing or arguing at her home, repeatedly ringing or buzzing the communal door entry system and banging at doors.

She was previously given an Asbo in September 2011 when she lived in Humbie, East Lothian, with Mr ­Bathgate.

Neighbours there complained of blazing rows between the pair, who were said to have a “volatile” relationship, with police often called.

The Humbie Asbo banned her from terrorising neighbours and playing loud music. Speaking about the latest order, Mrs Bathgate said her husband’s death caused her to spiral out of control.

However, she said she was now turning her “life around”.

“I was devastated, my kids were devastated,” she said. “You hear about this kind of thing in the news but you don’t expect it to happen to you.

“It was because of Brian’s death that these things happened. I’ve not caused any problems since the court case. I want to leave this flat as soon as possible. That will be the best thing that can happen to me. I don’t want to get into a tit-for-tat but there are other people in this stair who make a lot of noise and sometimes it’s blamed on me. I want to move on.”

One neighbour said: “She’s been a problem with noise and drunkenness, but I don’t know much about her.”

Mr Bathgate returned home at about 2.30am on March 13 after visiting his wife. His body was found at 8.50am on March 15 by one of his brothers. Officers are satisfied he returned to his home alone, but believe someone else was present when he died.

Police said that Mr Bathgate had a lax attitude to home security and would regularly leave his door at the cottage unlocked.

Police chiefs would not comment on whether Mrs Bathgate was a suspect in the “ongoing” inquiry.

DCI Hardie said: “We’re following a positive line of inquiry. There have been developments and we’ve carried out numerous tests.”

The death was initially treated as “unexplained”. Police thought his wound could have been self-inflicted until detailed blood splatter analysis led to it being reclassified “suspicious”.

An East Lothian Council spokeswoman confirmed the interim Asbo was granted last Monday at Haddington Sheriff Court.

She said: “Ms Bathgate’s actions have caused considerable concern and distress.”