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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 September 2007, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Murder accused was 'changed man'
Robert Mair
Robert Mair's body was found tied up in a cupboard
A man accused of a murder in Aberdeen seemed a "different person" when he returned from collecting a debt in the city, a trial has heard.

Stephen Rankin, 32, was "chalk white" and looked scared when he returned home to Ayrshire, his girlfriend said.

Mr Rankin, 32, and Derek Carswell, 40, deny murdering 57-year-old Robert Mair, whose body was found in a cupboard in his house in Aberdeen in February.

The trial of the two men, at the High Court in Edinburgh, continues.

I was worried about him - I knew who he was with
Leigh McCutcheon
Trial witness

Leigh McCutcheon, 31, told the trial how Mr Carswell and his then girlfriend, Jane McBurnie, turned up at their house in Galston, Ayrshire, one evening, asking her and Mr Rankin to accompany them to Aberdeen.

"Derek was just saying someone owed him money," she said.

Ms McCutcheon said she refused to go but that Mr Rankin eventually agreed, despite her disapproving stares.

She said she was so worried about her boyfriend she did not go to bed that night.

Ms McCutcheon made dozens of phone calls and sent text messages but got no reply.

"I was worried about him - I knew who he was with," she told the trial.

Mr Rankin turned up again the next morning, she said.

'Lot of trouble'

"After he came back he just turned into a different person," she said.

The court heard that Ms McCutcheon later told detectives investigating Mr Mair's death: "I asked him why he didn't answer his phone. I was angry and shouting at him.

Kettlehills Crescent, Northfield, Aberdeen
The police inquiry centred around the city's Northfield area

"He said: 'Shut up, my head is bursting. Derek Carswell got me into a lot of trouble'."

She told advocate depute John Scullion, prosecuting, that Mr Rankin looked "chalk white."

Questioned by Mr Carswell's defence QC Ian Duguid, Ms McCutcheon agreed she had given different reasons for the trip to Aberdeen; getting drugs, collecting money, and robbing a man who had "five grand and a couple of nine-bars" [cannabis] in his house.

She said the different reasons were given by Mr Carswell.

Mr Mair's body was discovered - tied up and wrapped in a duvet - after police forced their way into his house on 21 February.

Dog missing

His Alsatian dog, Travis, and his dark blue BMW with personalised number plate were missing.

It is alleged that in January or February this year the two accused attacked Mr Mair at the house at Kettlehills Crescent, grabbed him by the hair and neck, assaulted him with a weight and tied his arms, legs and mouth with duct tape and shoelaces.

The pair are also accused of trying to cover up the alleged murder by washing a blood-stained weight, wrapping up Mr Mair in a duvet and hiding the body in a cupboard.

Mr Carswell further denies charges of breach of the peace by threatening Mr Mair on an earlier occasion, theft, attempted theft and fraud.

Both men deny all the charges against them and Mr Rankin claims that he was acting under coercion if he did anything wrong.


SEE ALSO
Man 'beaten to death with weight'
14 Sep 07 |  North East/N Isles
Trial hears of body in cupboard
13 Sep 07 |  North East/N Isles

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