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Fraserburgh car dealers deny revenge hammer attack on vandal

Father and son Gordon and Morgan Murray told the jury that alleged victim Roberto Tudora turned violent, not them.

The Murray's were on trial at Peterhead Sheriff Court
Gordon Murray and son Morgan Murray arrive at Peterhead Sheriff Court. Image: Jasperimage

Bosses at a Fraserburgh car dealership have denied attacking a man with a hammer as revenge for a vandalism incident on their forecourt.

Gordon Murray, 66, and his son Morgan, 32, both deny the charge of forcing entry and assaulting Roberto Tudora in his home on April 2, 2021.

Both men are listed as company directors of Murray Motors in Fraserburgh, a car dealership on the town’s South Road.

The court heard in 2021 Mr Tudora was a tenant of Gordon Murray, renting a property on Charlotte Street in Fraserburgh, and he had been under suspicion of vandalising cars on their forecourt.

Mr Tudora later pled guilty to the malicious damage and received community service.

Eviction visit

Giving evidence in his own defence, Gordon Murray told the jury he had informed Mr Tudora he would need to vacate the property and had expected it to be empty when he went there with his son and two other employees on the day of the alleged hammer attack.

He said the four men were simply going to gain entry to the property and clear it out for the next tenant, but when they got there they realised it was still occupied.

“We tried the keys, but couldn’t get in,” Gordon Murray said. “By the time we were trying to force the door, two guys appeared and opened it for us.”

Robert Tudora, left, claims he was assaulted by the father and son behind Murray Motors in Fraserburgh. Image: DC Thomson / Facebook

He then went on to say he had gone upstairs to look for Mr Tudora and Morgan had followed not long after.

Once upstairs, Gordon Murray said he asked Mr Tudora to leave and began packing his clothes for him.

He said: “[Mr Tudora] was on the phone, I don’t know who he was talking to.”

‘We ended up wrestling on the floor’

Being led by his defence agent Leonard Birkenshaw, he told the court how Morgan Murray had by now come into the room and placed the hammer he had been carrying down on a cabinet.

“Morgan began removing the CCTV camera from outside the bedroom window,” Gordon Murray went on.

He told the court that it was whilst his son was leaning out of the window that Mr Tudora grabbed the discarded hammer and made a move to hit Morgan over the head with it.

He said: “I grabbed Tudora by the arm and pulled him away from Morgan, we ended up wrestling on the floor.

“I eventually got the hammer off him and gave it to Morgan. He [Morgan] puts it in the green bag and goes downstairs with it.”

‘He was very, very angry’

Mr Birkenshaw asked what had happened next and Murray said: “Tudora was trying to get up, but I was holding him down. He was very, very angry.”

He also asked him if he had hit Mr Tudora with a hammer, or punched him or kicked him, he replied: “No, not at all.”

Under cross-examination by fiscal depute Ruairidh McAllister, Murray senior denied going to Mr Tudora’s house to gain revenge for the vandalism of his cars the week before.

Mr McAllister re-played the 999 call Mr Tudora made during the attack in which he could be heard repeatedly screaming for help amid aggressive background noise.

Mr McAllister asked: “Those are the sounds of you and your son assaulting Mr Tudora, aren’t they?”

Murray replied: “Not at all.”

999 call played again to jury

Aggressive male voices could be heard during the audio saying, “get on your f**king feet” and “who sent you” interspersed with Mr Tudora’s cries for help.

Mr McAllister suggested it was Gordon Murray’s voice shouting the questions and that he seemed angry.

“How can the ladies and gentlemen on the jury reconcile you saying you are not angry with all that screaming?”

Murray answered: “We were all stressed. I never asked that question.”

Mr McAllister also questioned Murray senior about how Mr Tudora had gained the “massive lump” on his forehead.

“He hit it on the bedside table,” Murray replied.

Mr Birkenshaw then re-examined his client, pointing out that they had arrived in “broad daylight” in “logo-emblazoned” work vans.

“If you were going to assault Mr Tudora, would you have left two of the mob outside? Would you not have taken them all inside with you?”

Murray replied: “Yes.”

Son’s evidence

Morgan Murray also gave evidence and described a similar scenario that his father had first gone upstairs, and he followed.

He told the court that by the time he got to Mr Tudora’s room an agreement had been reached between the men, who he described as “calm”.

Under questioning by his defence agent John McLeod, he told the jury that he had been holding a green bag containing tools “for the house clearance” and a hammer.

“We needed tools for breaking up kitchen and wardrobes,” he explained. “I put the hammer down on a cabinet.”

Murray then went on to explain how he had spotted the CCTV camera on the wall and, knowing it didn’t belong to them, he leant out of the window to retrieve it so Mr Tudora could pack it with his other belongings.

“I heard a stramash behind me,” Murray said. “And I thought ‘what the hell?

“I was terrified. My dad and Roberto were on the floor.”

He then told the court that his father had passed the hammer to him and told him to take it.

He said that both his father and Mr Tudora were standing up and “seemed calm” but added: “Roberto was shouting out the window.”

Under cross-examination, Mr McAllister re-played the 999 call made by Michael McDonald, a neighbour across the street.

Running commentary

In the audio, Mr McDonald gives a running commentary of what he can see and says: “The guy had handed the other guy a bag, a bag containing something in it.”

Mr McAllister asked Morgan Murray if this was the point he gave the hammer to his colleague, he replied: “Yes.”

He continued the audio and Mr McDonald continues to narrate events as they unfold.

He can be heard saying: “The guy in the house has CCTV outside his window upstairs, it’s just been ripped off the outside of the window.”

Mr McAllister questioned how this could fit in with the Murrays’ version of events, given they both said Mr Tudora had picked up the hammer whilst Morgan had removed the CCTV.

“There’s no indication Mr McDonald says that happened,” Morgan Murray answered. “You can’t confirm that.”

‘I’m not lying’

Mr McAllister suggested: “Here is an independent witness who doesn’t back up your sequence of events. You are just lying aren’t you Mr Murray?”

Murray replied: “I’m not lying.”

The two businessmen deny the charges and Gordon Murray submitted a special defence of self-defence, claiming he was protecting Morgan Murray by wrestling the hammer out of the hand of Mr Tudora.

The charges allege that the men forced entry into Mr Tudora’s home, brandishing a hammer, striking him on the head with the weapon causing him to fall to the floor.

It also states that they allegedly continued the attack by repeatedly punching, kicking, and stamping on Mr Tudora’s head and body – while also hitting him with a wooden pole – all to the man’s injury.

The trial being heard by Sheriff Craig Findlater continues.