A man and a woman who brutally slit mum-of-two Tracy Walker’s throat during a failed robbery bid are facing life sentences after being found guilty of murder.
Ross MacDougall, 32, and Dawn Smith, 29, subjected Ms Walker, 40, to a frenzied attack in Lerwick, Shetland, in July last year.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how the duo targeted Ms Walker because they needed money to buy drugs.
They knew Ms Walker was carrying money and targeted her in the hope they could get the cash from her.
A jury heard how Smith handed MacDougall a fish filleting knife which she took from her stepfather’s home in the town.
The pair then confronted Ms Walker and MacDougall struck her on the head with a rock before strangling her and repeatedly stabbing her in the throat. He cut her carotid artery and jugular vein during the horrific assault.
Jurors heard how following the attack, Smith stood for 10 minutes and watched her victim die.
She told a man how she witnessed Ms Walker lying on the ground “gargling” and holding her neck in the moments where she fought in vain for her life.
On Thursday, jurors returned guilty verdicts to a charge of murder. Smith was also convicted of illegal knife possession.
MacDougall was also convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice by asking a man called Kyle Swannie to provide him with an alibi and a change of clothes.
MacDougall did these things with the purpose of destroying evidence in respect of the attack on Ms Walker.
The pair were cleared of a charge which alleged they assaulted a man called Gary Latham, who gave evidence during the trial.
Following the verdicts, Lord Uist continued proceedings until Friday morning.
He told them: “The reason for that is that there is further procedure to deal with and I will have to hear from counsel.”
The verdicts came during the 15th day of proceedings. It is thought to be only third murder to have been committed in Shetland in the past 50 years.
During proceedings, the court heard how both MacDougall and Smith spent the evening of July 29 2019 trying to score drugs. However, they didn’t have any cash.
The pair learned that Ms Walker was going to buy drugs and had £100 of cash in her. The pair then hatched a plan to get their hands on Ms Walker’s cash.
Smith took a fish filleting knife from her step father’s flat in Lerwick and gave it to MacDougall and the pair attacked Ms Walker in the town’s Ladies Drive in the early hours of July 30.
Forensic pathologist Leighanne Deboys carried out a post mortem on Ms Walker’s body. She told jurors that Ms Walker’s jugular vein and carotid artery had been cut in the time before she lost her life.
The High Court in Edinburgh also heard that Ms Walker’s neck was had also been compressed and that this too would have contributed to her death.
She told the court that Ms Walker’s body had a number of bruises and lacerations.
Dr Deboys told prosecution lawyer Steven Mr Borthwick that the lacerations had been caused by a weapon.
Speaking about one of the lacerations, Dr Deboys said: “This is a sharp force injury and it would have been inflicted by a sharp edged weapon.”
Dr Deboys said one wound track on Ms Walker’s body ended within her trachea. When Mr Borthwick asked her what the consequence of the injury would have been for Ms Walker, she replied: “It would have been very difficult for her to breathe.”
Dr Deboys told the court that there had been a “complete transection” of Ms Walker’s right internal jugular vein. Her carotid artery had also sustained a “complete transection.”
Speaking about the consequences of the these injuries, Dr Deboys said: “You got to be ready for immediate and skilled surgical intervention to deal with this issue.”
It was alleged in court that Gary Latham was the man who MacDougall and Smith were going to buy drugs from. The court heard how he found Ms Walker lying in the street moments after being attacked.
He said: “I went straight over to see if she was alright.”
Mr Latham – who denied being a drug dealer in court – said: “There was a big gash in her throat. It looked horrific.”
Mr Latham said he was left feeling “hysterical, distraught.. torn apart”.
Officers investigating Ms Walker’s death concluded that MacDougall was trying to destroy evidence of the murder.
Detectives also spoke to Barry Colquhoun during their investigation. He had a conversation with Smith hours after the attack happened.
Mr Colquhoun, of Glasgow, told the court that he had been working as a gardener at a home in Shetland when he spoke to Smith.
He said: “She said she knew what had happened and she was present.
“When she told me, I was taken aback. I asked her what happened.
“She said that Ross had killed Tracy and he had struck her with a rock to the side of her head and then proceeded to strike her one more time on her head.
“At that point, Tracy was on the ground and Ross had cut her with a knife.
“She said it was horrific. You could hear Tracy gargling.”
Mr Colquhoun told the court that Smith said she didn’t “do it”.
He added: “At that point, I told her to speak to the police. I told her that several times.”
The proceedings will continue on Friday morning.