A court has heard there was “catastrophic damage” caused to the flat where a father-of-five died in a fire.
Gordon Graham, 43, was asleep in a second-floor flat on Fraserburgh’s High Street when the blaze broke out on May 3, 1998.
Although firefighters tried to reach him, the ferocity of the flames meant by the time they got to him he was dead.
Barry Henderson, 42, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow accused of murdering Mr Graham and attempting to kill his wife.
Yesterday, a former scenes of crime officer took the jury through a report on the blaze, which was compiled during one of the first joint investigations between police and fire.
Bruce Duncan told the court the report produced in June 1998 was based on what they saw the scene of the fire, rather than witness accounts.
The report stated “catastrophic damage” was caused to the second floor flat in which Mr Graham, who had been drinking heavily, was sleeping.
This was because the front door of the flat was open at a 45-degree angle and the keys were found beside Mr Graham’s body. This combined with the door being open caused a chimney effect which drew flames up towards the roof.
The jury previously heard from Alistair Spence, an assistant divisional officer with Grampian Fire and Rescue Service, who said their original report had ruled the fire was accidental.
He said their conclusion had found the fire was started by a dropped cigarette or the smouldering dropped end of a cigarette falling on to a mattress lying in the hallway.
But yesterday the court heard another report, compiled many years later, indicated the seat of the fire was not the mattress, but an area near a wheelie bin. The jury heard that a box of burnt matches and a cigarette end were found in this area.
Mr Duncan agreed that the author of the later report was given information that he and Mr Spence had been unaware of, adding they would have to “reassess” their conclusions.
Defence advocate Brian McConnachie suggested to Mr Duncan that witness testimony “must be crucial”, to which he replied: “That would be correct. We got information from officers in charge. We relied on them telling us anything of significance.”
When asked why that did not happen in 1998, Mr Duncan said: “I think it was because we were at the early stage of joint reports. I would like to think things have improved greatly.”
Henderson is also accused of assaulting a woman in a nightclub in Fraserburgh, by kicking her on the leg and attempting to punch her, and of committing a breach of the peace at a nearby car park on May 3, 1998.
He also faces another charge that he behaved in a threatening manner on a bus between Crimond and Fraserburgh last November. Henderson denies all the charges against him and has lodged special defences of alibi and incrimination.
The trial, before Lord Ericht, continues.