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Glasgow High Court: Climber acquitted of killing friend outside Highland hotel

The High Court in Glasgow.
The High Court in Glasgow.

A climber has been acquitted of killing a friend hours after they scaled Ben Nevis.

John McLean, 43, was accused of attacking 44-year-old Mark Maguire outside the Cruachan Hotel in Fort William in May last year.

The pair were part of a group of friends who had travelled from Glasgow to tackle the UK’s highest mountain.

Mr McLean was accused of punching the dad-of-three on the neck, leaving him so severely injured that he died in hospital the next day.

Mr Maguire suffered a “traumatic” brain injury.

Mr McLean, of the city’s Milton, had denied a culpable homicide charge and at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday jurors returned a not proven verdict.

The trial heard Mr McLean and Mr Maguire had been long-term friends.

The group had gone for an Indian meal and drinks after the successful climb.

But, in the early hours, Mr Maguire became annoyed about something and Mr McLean’s son Ross – a trainee teacher – tried to act as peacemaker.

It was claimed Mr Maguire swung a punch at Ross, leading to Mr McLean himself stepping in.

In a police interview, Mr McLean said he then threw a punch, but was not certain it connected with Mr Maguire.

Mr Maguire eventually ended up on the ground unconscious. The dad, of Bishopbriggs, never recovered.

Pathologists said the cause of death was a rare injury caused by his neck being hit and then forced to the side.

In his closing speech to jurors, defence counsel Donald Findlay QC said: “The Crown has not led a single scrap of evidence that shows anyone punched Mr Maguire on the side of the neck.”

He also said Mr McLean had gone to visit the Maguire family after the death to offer “comfort and solace”.

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