Mobile phones belonging to Steven Donaldson, his alleged killer Steven Dickie and the partner of co-accused Callum Davidson were tracked moving around the outskirts of Kirriemuir in the hours before the 27-year-old’s body was discovered, a court heard yesterday.
An expert told the jury in the murder trial that the phone of the third co-accused, Tasmin Glass, was also operating in the same mast area as that of Mr Donaldson on the night of June 6 last year.
Cell site engineer Greg Robinson told the High Court in Edinburgh the devices could have been in the vicinity of Kirriemuir’s Peter Pan playpark.
Prosecutors allege that Glass, Dickie and Davidson arranged to meet Mr Donaldson at the park then assaulted him, before taking the Arbroath offshore worker to the nearby Loch of Kinnordy nature reserve, hitting him with other instruments and setting fire to him and his car.
On the 13th day of the trio’s trial, jurors heard Mr Donaldson’s mobile may have suffered an “abnormal” power down between midnight and 3am on June 7 — just hours before RSPB reserve staff found his charred and beaten corpse beside his BMW.
Mr Robinson said he had been asked to analyse a number of phones linked to the inquiry as well as “locations of interest” in the investigation, including the homes of all three accused, the Kirrie play area and the nature reserve.
He told Crown prosecutor, advocate depute Ashley Edwards, that cell site analysis could not pinpoint the exact location of a mobile phone or who was operating it, but it was possible to determine the approximate area from mast data.
He said Dickie’s device was operating in the Kirriemuir area around 11pm on June 6, before showing movement to the north and then around the fringes of the town, consistent with cell sites serving Kinnordy Loch.
Mr Donaldson’s phone also showed movement north from Kirriemuir, he added.
In the minutes leading up to midnight, there was a possibility it was at Kinnordy Loch due to cells it was connecting with, the trial heard.
The witness said the last activity associated with Mr Donaldson’s phone was at 3.01am in a cell area consistent with it being at Kinnordy Loch.
He was also quizzed by the advocate depute about analysis of a mobile belonging to Davidson’s girlfriend, Claire Ogston, between 1am and 2am on June 7.
Asked if the data was supportive of someone cycling to Kinnordy Loch, Mr Robinson replied: “The mobile phone has the potential to be in and around the area surrounding Kirriemuir at this time. That would be a possibility.”
In cross examination, Ian Duguid QC, for Dickie put it to the witness: “It looks as if Claire Ogston’s mobile phone is on the move at 1.36, is that right?”
“Yes,” replied the witness.
Under questioning by Mark Stewart QC, counsel for Glass, the witness agreed that while cell site data could provide information about mobile phones co-locating in the same area, it could not say whether they were together at the time.
At the close of proceedings ahead of the Easter weekend break, it was also indicated to the jury that the Crown case is scheduled to conclude early next week.
There is a likelihood that defence evidence in the following days will take the trial into a fifth week.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
The charge faced by the accused Steven Dickie, Callum Davidson and Tasmin Glass alleges that between June 6 and 7 2018 at the Peter Pan playpark, Kirriemuir and Loch of Kinnordy nature reserve car park, they assaulted Mr Donaldson and arranged to meet him with the intention of assaulting him, and once there repeatedly struck him on the head and body with unknown instruments whereby he was incapacitated, and thereafter took him to Loch of Kinnordy where they repeatedly struck him on the head and body with a knife and baseball bat or similar instruments, repeatedly struck him on the head and neck with an unknown heavy bladed instrument and set fire to him and his motor vehicle, registered S73 VED, and murdered him.
Dickie and Davidson face four other charges including one of behaving in a threatening manner towards two men between January 2014 and June 2018 by making threats, following them on foot and in a motor vehicle, presenting weapons and acting in a threatening manner.
They are also charged with putting a kitten in a bag in Main Street, Lochore, Fife on an occasion between February 1 and May 31 2017, swinging the bag about and punching and kicking the kitten; behaving in a threatening manner towards a man in St Malcolm’s Wynd, Kirriemuir, and elsewhere between December 1 2017 and February 28 2018 by following him on foot and in a vehicle, and threatening him with weapons.
Both also deny following and staring at a woman and kicking her car in Kirriemuir between August 1 2017 and April 31 2018.
Davidson faces a further charge of assaulting a man between June 1 2017 and December 31 2017 at a house in Glengate, Kirriemuir, by pushing him to the floor and threatening to punch him.
Dickie is also accused of assaulting a woman at the Ogilvy Arms pub in Kirriemuir between February 1 and 28 last year by seizing her by the wrist and neck and threatening her with violence.