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Drink-driver struck and killed charity cyclist then buried body in woods

Tony Parsons had been missing for more than three years after he travelled to Fort William to complete a charity bike ride back home.

From left: Tony Parsons, Alexander McKellar and his twin brother Robert. Images: Police Scotland
From left: Tony Parsons, Alexander McKellar and his twin brother Robert. Images: Police Scotland

A drink-driver has admitted killing a charity cyclist and hiding his body in a grave.

Alexander McKellar ploughed into Tony Parsons in his Isuzu pick-up on the A82 road between Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum in Argyll and Bute on September 29, 2017.

Mr Parsons had travelled from his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire to Fort William and was intending on returning south as part of a charity bike ride.

McKellar teamed up with his twin brother Robert to try and cover up his crime, which included burying the 63-year-old ex-Navy officer in nearby woods.

Mr Parsons’ disappearance sparked a large-scale missing person probe that included a BBC Crimewatch TV appeal by his son.

It was only in January 12, 2021 – more than three years after he was killed – that his remains were discovered in the remote area of Bridge of Orchy.

Both McKellars – aged 31 – had been due to stand trial accused of Mr Parsons’ murder.

But on Wednesday, via his KC Brian McConnachie, Alexander McKellar pled guilty at the High Court in Glasgow to the reduced charge of culpable homicide.

Alexander McKellar. Image: Facebook

His brother – represented by defence KC John Scullion – had his not-guilty plea to murder accepted.

Along with Alexander, he instead admitted to a charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

The pair were remanded in custody as the case was adjourned until Friday of this week when further details of the horror are expected to be heard.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC revealed Alexander has already had a string of road traffic convictions.

He was guilty of dangerous driving in 2009 in Oban. Three years later, he was convicted of drink driving.

The same year, Alexander was guilty of careless driving. Both the latter cases were at Stirling.

Alexander McKellar drove drunk and at speed

The amended culpable homicide charge stated Alexander drove at excess speed and when unfit through alcohol on the night of the killing.

Mr Parsons was cycling on the A82 at the time.

Prosecutors stated Alexander failed to observe him and caused his vehicle to hit the dad.

Knowing Mr Parsons was then badly hurt, he failed to get any medical help for the victim in what was described as “reckless disregard for the consequences” of his actions.

The cyclist was said to have been abandoned at the side of the road in the dark and remote area in “inclement weather”.

Mr Parsons was eventually reported missing on October 2 2017.

Robert McKellar. Image: Facebook

Both McKellars knew what had happened and took extreme steps to cover up the crime.

The damaged car involved in the killing was dumped at the nearby Auch Estate along with their phones.

They then returned in another car to where stricken Mr Parsons still was.

The man was then hauled into this motor along with his bike and other personal belongings.

The brothers went back to the Auch Estate and initially hid the body in a part of the woods.

But the victim was later taken to another location there used “for the purposes of disposing dead animals”.

A grave was then dug and the body of tragic Mr Parsons was dumped in it.

He was buried while his personal belongings were also disposed of.

Cyclist Tony Parsons’ body discovered close to farm near A82

Prosecutors said the brothers got help in trying to repair the car used in the killing, claiming damage had been caused by hitting a deer.

The charge stated all this was to “prevent and delay the discovery of the body”.

It was said they did “obstruct” the police from conducting a “full and proper investigation” into the circumstances of the killing.

This charge spanned between September 29, 2017 and January 3, 2021 – listing various locations, including Bridge of Orchy, Fauldhouse in West Lothian and a garage in Airdrie, Lanarkshire.

Mr Parsons’ body was eventually discovered later that month by specialist police search officers in a remote area of ground close to a farm near the A82.

Police searches between Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum.
Police searches between Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum ended a three-year-long mystery of where missing cyclist Tony Parsons was. Image: DC Thomson

Members of Mr Parsons’ family including his wife and two adult children were at the hearing on Wednesday.

Alexander McKellar had his not guilty plea to causing the death of Mr Parsons accepted.

Prosecutor Mr Prentice told the hearing: “A plea has been agreed at this stage. I propose the Crown and the defence prepare an agreed narrative”.

He added that the case was “complex” and that there was “quite a bit to say”.

Lord Armstrong adjourned the hearing until Friday.

‘Much-loved husband, dad and grandad’

Tony Parsons’ family said he was a “much-loved husband, dad and grandad” in a statement released by Police Scotland.

“When he said goodbye and set off on his charity cycle from Fort William that Friday, none of us expected it to be the last time we would be able to see or speak to him,” they said.

“He loved nothing more than spending time with his grandchildren and whilst doing so he would take part in his passion for fishing and spend time teaching his grandson to fish.

“Tony was a lover of sports and was a keen golfer. He also spent many years involved with rugby at all levels including playing, coaching mini/midi rugby and refereeing.

“Throughout the six years since he went missing and then the subsequent criminal investigation, we had been left with many unanswered questions and it has been heart-breaking for each and every member of the family being unable to get these answers.

‘Devastating news has taken its toll’

Mr Parsons’ relatives also spoke of the devastating impact on their lives and gave thanks to those who’ve helped to offer some closure.

“As you can imagine, not knowing what has happened to someone and then the devastating news that we were provided has taken its toll on all of us as a family.

“At last justice has been done and we would like to thank not only the court officials and officers from Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, Forth Valley Division and other Police Scotland departments who worked on this case, but all the volunteers and mountain rescue teams who tirelessly searched for him in the earlier stages of the enquiry.

“As a family, we would like to request privacy at this time so that we can finally grieve and come to terms with the outcome of the trial and a life without Tony.”

‘Brutal and uncaring actions’

Detective Inspector Fraser Spence, of Police Scotland’s Major Investigation Team, said: “The brutal and uncaring actions of these men left the family of Mr Parsons distraught, not knowing what had happened to him for many years.

“It appeared that he had just disappeared into thin air.

“A major policing operation was carried out to try to find Mr Parsons, including searches over a vast and remote area near to where he was last seen.

“Despite exhaustive investigation work carried out by officers and extensive coverage in the media, the brothers did not come forward to disclose what happened.

“In December 2021, information provided to officers led to the brothers being arrested and then charged.

“Further searches were carried out and in January 2021 human remains were found in a remote area of ground close to a farm near the A82.

“These were identified as Anthony Parsons.

“Our thoughts are very much with the family and friends of Mr Parsons and I hope that the court outcome now gives them some kind of closure.

“I would like to thank the local community for all their help and assistance during this complex investigation and to members of the public who came forward and provided information.

“I would also like to pay tribute to all the officers who worked on this case and to the dedicated work carried out over many years to bring these men to justice.”

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