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BBC Scotland's Bob Wylie reports
"The court heard how Graeme Donaldson made a series of confessions to the murder"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Man guilty of shopkeeper murder
Mr Basra's shop
Mr Basra was shot dead in his shop in Auchinloch
A 27-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of Asian shopkeeper Gurmit Basra.

Mr Basra, who was said to have been the victim of a botched robbery, was found shot dead in his shop in Auchinloch on the outskirts of Glasgow on 29 December, 1999.

Graeme Donaldson, from Kirkintilloch, confessed to the murder last year.

At the High Court in Glasgow, he was found guilty by a majority verdict and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Gurmit Singh Basra
Mr Basra was a popular local figure
Last March William Ward was charged with the murder but has not been brought to trial.

Then, in October, Donaldson was charged.

The High Court heard how Donaldson called the police making a series of confessions to the murder.

But when he went into the witness box he said he had made the whole story up and was protecting Ward.

During the the trial the judge, Lord Osborne, imposed a blanket ban on reporting of the trial when the Crown argued that it could prejudice any subsequent prosecution of Ward.

However, BBC Scotland successfully challenged this and the judge restricted the ban to the reporting of any evidence which pointed to Ward's involvement in events leading up to Mr Basra's death.

Mr Basra, 59, from Meadowburn Road, in Bishopbriggs, was found seriously injured with gunshot wounds and died later from his injuries.

He had been working alone in his shop in Langmuirhead Road when the attack happened.

Released on bail

His murder shocked people in the village community, who affectionately referred to Mr Basra as 'Mr Joe', and a reward was offered for help in catching his killer.

The court heard how the murder inquiry had taken a strange twist.

William Ward appeared in court on 6 March last year but was released on bail a week later and a provisional trial date was earmarked for November.

However, Donaldson, of Blackburn Crescent, Kirkintilloch, telephoned a detective at home on 30 September last year and said he had committed the murder.

Graeme Donaldson
Donaldson told police he was guilty
He confessed again when detectives went to meet him at his girlfriend's home and, on the way to the police station, he said: "It was me that done it. I shot into the wall.

"Then I shot him in the side with a .22 calibre gun. It was a botched robbery."

The jury heard a recorded confession in which Donaldson said he thought he could get a lot of money from Mr Basra's safe and wanted to buy cocaine.

He then described how he carried out the attack, shooting Mr Basra with a sawn-off rifle after he refused to hand over cash.

He left the shop empty handed and disposed of the gun in a canal.

During the trial, a considerable amount of the evidence centred around William Ward, who Donaldson said was the real killer in a special defence of incrimination.

Donaldson told Donald Findlay QC, who defended him, that on the night that he confessed he had been on alcohol and drugs and was owed a lot of money.

He had also been told that his girlfriend had been cheating on him.

Mr Findlay said: "So what you did was to make a two fingered gesture at the world to show that despite all the crap in your life you were still somebody, and so you confessed to a crime you did not commit?"

Donaldson agreed and said he had used his imagination to speculate on what the victim of a robbery might have said when confronted by a gunman.

He told Johanna Johnston, prosecuting: I know it sounds outrageous, but it is the truth."

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See also:

02 May 01 | Scotland
Trial paves way for new inquiry
19 Apr 01 | Scotland
BBC Scotland challenges court ban
21 Feb 00 | Scotland
Village's bid to catch killer
05 Jan 00 | Scotland
Villagers quizzed by murder police
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