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 Handyman goes on trial over Vicky killing

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PostSubject: Handyman goes on trial over Vicky killing   Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:29 pm

Published Date: 04 November 2008
By JOHN ROBERTSON
Law Correspondent
A 62-YEAR-OLD man went on trial yesterday accused of murdering schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton more than 17 years ago.
Peter Tobin, a handyman, denies abducting, sexually assaulting and killing the 15-year-old, and pleads alibi, saying he was in the south of England and travelling to Scotland at the time she disappeared.

Vicky had been waiting for a bus in Bathgate, West Lothian, as she made her way home to Redding, near Falkirk, after visiting her sister in Livingston when she disappeared in 1991.

Her body was discovered last year in the garden of a house in Margate, Kent.

The trial, which is expected to last at least three weeks, got under way before Lord Emslie at the High Court in Dundee after a jury of 12 women and three men was selected.

The judge, Lord Emslie, told the jury that Tobin enjoyed the presumption of innocence, and had the choice of whether or not he would go into the witness box – there was no obligation on him to do so, or to lead any defence evidence.

Lord Emslie said: "Mr Tobin is perfectly entitled to leave it to the Crown to do all the leading in these proceedings. It is always for the Crown to prove the guilt of an accused person. It is never for an accused person to prove his or her own innocence."

He went on: "Although Mr Tobin, for practical reasons, has to sit in the dock between security officers, he is presumed to be innocent now and throughout this trial, that is unless and until the Crown can convince you beyond reasonable doubt that you should find him guilty.

"The terms of the oath you took were that you would well and truly try the accused and give a true verdict according to the evidence. The oath requires that all decisions you reach, and in particular your ultimate verdict of guilt or acquittal in relation to Mr Tobin, must be based on the evidence that is to be led during the trial in this courtroom and on nothing else.

"It is essential to the fairness of this trial that each one of you should be able to comply with the requirements of that oath.

"It is essential to the fairness of the trial that factors such as prejudice or personal considerations, capable of distorting your judgment, must have no part to play in the jury room."

Tobin wore grey trousers, a sky blue jumper and lilac open-necked shirt for the first day of his trial.

He is accused of forcing or luring Vicky to his then home in Robertson Avenue, Bathgate, on 10 February, 1991. It is alleged he drugged her, compressed her neck or otherwise caused injury to her neck, sexually assaulted her and murdered her.

In a second charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice, spanning from 10 February to 15 December, 1991, and including the house in Bathgate and an address in Irvine Drive, Margate, Tobin is said to have concealed the body before cutting it in two and transporting and burying the parts. He is also said to have put Vicky's purse under a Portakabin to mislead police into believing she had run away from home.

In his special defence of alibi, Tobin says that between 5pm and midnight on 10 February, 1991, he was in the Portsmouth area and then travelled from the south of England to Scotland, and did not arrive in Edinburgh until 6:30am the following day.

Lord Emslie explained to the jurors that it was important that they realised from the outset that they had the "very special function" of being the judges of the facts in the case. It was for them to listen to the evidence, and to work out what they made of the various witnesses.

Observing the body language of a witness, the jurors would have to work out whether he or she was telling the truth and whether they could safely rely on what was said.

"We are looking to you to contribute your collective common sense, your collective experience of life, your collective experience of how far you are prepared to accept what other people say. At the end of the trial, it will be your responsibility to bring in a verdict of guilt or acquittal against Peter Britton Tobin," Lord Emslie said.

The only evidence heard yesterday was the formal identification of police maps of Bathgate, Margate and St Andrew Square in Edinburgh, which will feature throughout the case.

The case continues.
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