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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Jury told of 'corrupt councillor'
Robert Mair
Robert Mair's body was found in a cupboard in Aberdeen
A man accused of murder in Aberdeen alleged that an unnamed city councillor was corrupt, a trial has heard.

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

Mr Carswell told police he was not responsible for Mr Mair's death.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard of exchanges with police about a public figure who was not named and whether he was corrupt. The trial continues.

The exchanges happened after Mr Carswell was arrested in Blackpool.

Grampian Police Det Insp Malcolm Stewart travelled to the Lancashire resort to interview him after Mr Mair's body was found.

The officer told the court that when he asked Mr Carswell if he was responsible for the death of Mr Mair, he replied: "No".

'No comment'

When asked if he was sure, Mr Carswell said: "Positive".

Det Insp Stewart said that throughout the rest of the interview on 5 March Mr Carswell either said "No comment" or sat silent, wrapped in a sheet because he had complained of the cold.

It was when defence QC Gordon Jackson, for Mr Rankin, questioned the officer that references to a councillor - who was not named in court - were revealed.

The lawyer said that Mr Carswell had said during the interview that he did not want to be taken to Aberdeen by police because he did not trust them.

Mr Jackson continued: "There was a lot of discussion - I am not sure if he is an Aberdeen councillor or not, I don't know who this man is."

Mr Jackson said Mr Carswell, in the interview, went into a lot of questions about whether he was involved in drugs.

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

"There is a long discussion about him and where he lives and who his girlfriend is and whether he is corrupt," said Mr Jackson and Det Insp Stewart agreed.

"There is discussion about his girlfriend, her name, the fact that he knows this man, the fact he is involved with prostitutes, involved with drugs, a whole discussion about this other man's involvement, I suppose. Quite serious allegations against this man."

Mr Jackson continued: "He was perfectly willing to speak to you about this public figure in Aberdeen - I don't know him from Adam - but when you are talking to him about what you want to talk to him about he moves into 'No comment' mode at that stage?"

"Or stays completely silent," said Det Insp Stewart.

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

Missing dog

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.

Murder accused was 'changed man'
18 Sep 07 |  North East/N Isles
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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