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BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser reports
"McDonald tried to dispose of his wife's body in woodland"
 real 56k

Friday, 9 February, 2001, 15:10 GMT
Seven years for wife killer
Niall McDonald being led away from court
McDonald's lawyers have lodged an appeal
A man has been jailed for seven years after being found guilty of killing his wife during a sex act and disposing of her body.

Niall McDonald, from Aberdeen, had argued that his wife Mandy died in a tragic accident.

He said he had panicked and disposed of her body and then told police that she had disappeared.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Friday the judge Lord Penrose said there were tragic characteristics to the case.

Niall McDonald
Niall McDonald alleged it was an accident
However, what McDonald had done in an attempt to conceal the body had shown a "total disregard and lack of respect".

McDonald, 35, had alleged that his wife Mandy, 32, had died when a sex act went wrong at their home in Arnhall Drive, Westhill, Aberdeen, on 4 January last year.

He was charged with murder but a jury at the High Court sitting in Forfar last month found him guilty of a reduced charge of culpable homicide.

Lord Penrose said he had no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.

At the end of the trial the jury also found McDonald guilty of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of his wife's body, cleaning blood stains from their home and telling people she had disappeared following a row.

However, McDonald's lawyers confirmed they had lodged an appeal with the High Court after Friday's hearing.

Shaun George, his solicitor, said he expected an interim hearing to take place as early as next week to consider whether to bail his client pending a full appeal.

What I have to face is the evidence of the jury that you committed an assault against your late wife and you caused her death

Lord Penrose
During the trial last month, the jury heard that Mrs McDonald had stopped breathing during a sex act at the couple's home.

McDonald was convicted of culpable homicide by compressing his wife's neck with his arm during a sex act.

He first told police that she had left their home after an argument, which sparked a massive search.

However, he later led officers to her body, saying she had stopped breathing during their lovemaking.

He had panicked and dumped her in woodland on the outskirts of Aberdeen.

The body was found near Aberdeen
Police eventually found Mrs McDonald's body
Lord Penrose imposed a four year jail sentence for the charge of culpable homicide and a further three years to run consecutively for the charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

The judge agreed the case was a most tragic one but said he had to take into account the nature of the jury's verdict.

He said: "What I have to face is the evidence of the jury that you committed an assault against your late wife and you caused her death.

"As far as the second charge is concerned, what you did, in all conscience showed total disregard and lack of respect for your late wife in attempting to conceal the criminal characteristics of the assault which resulted in her death."

'No respect'

McDonald's counsel, Donald Findlay QC, said that Mrs McDonald's death was a tragic consequence of an act which was not "evil per se".

Mr Findlay told the court that McDonald's "sadness about this whole affair is undeniably genuine".

He added: "What Mr McDonald did after his wife's death did him no credit. He treated her with no respect or consideration."

But he told the court that the incident which led to the death of Mrs McDonald was a "private matter" and the public interest would not be served by sending him to prison.

Mandy McDonald
McDonald his his wife's body
He told the court: "This is somebody whose world and life was completely shattered because he and Amanda chose to indulge in something which had consequences which were without doubt beyond either of their contemplation.

"It is one of the saddest and most genuinely tragic cases I have ever known."

McDonald was led away from the court after the sentence was passed at the end of the 20-minute hearing.

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See also:

23 Jan 01 | Scotland
Dead woman's family 'grief-stricken'
19 Jan 01 | Scotland
Wife may have died during sex
16 Jan 01 | Scotland
Husband denies wife's murder
17 Jan 01 | Scotland
Wife's death 'an accident'
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