Montrose murder trial: Accused slit mother-of-three’s throat, claims ex-wife

The trial before Judge Lady Rae continues.
The trial before Judge Lady Rae continues.

Murder accused Steven Jackson confessed that he had slit mother-of-three Kimberley MacKenzie’s throat and cut her up in a bath, his former wife told a jury.

Barbara Whyte, 43, who was married to Jackson for four years in the 1990s, claimed that he boasted to her that he would never be caught.

She was giving evidence at the High Court in Glasgow last Friday in the trial of Steven Jackson, 40, and Michelle Higgins, 29, who deny murdering 37-year-old Ms MacKenzie at 40 A Market Street, Montrose, on October 27, last year and then dismembering her body.

Miss Whyte told prosecutor Ashley Edwards QC that she got in touch with her former husband after 17 years by contacting him on Facebook in October last year.

At first he did not respond, but then phoned her on November 3, 2015, and asked her to join him at Weatherspoons in Blairgowrie.

At the end of the evening, she told the jurors, Jackson said there was something he wanted to tell her.

He paid for a room at a B & B in Blairgowrie and they spent the night there.

Ms Edwards said: “What happened in the room,” and Ms Whyte replied: “Steven started telling me about his actions the week previous. He told me how he cut up someone.”

The QC added: “Did Mr Jackson tell you about the occasion when Kim came to his door,” and Ms Whyte replied: “He said Michelle Higgins came running through and hit her over the back of the head with a hammer.

“He said they removed her from there to the bathroom.”

Ms Edwards then asked: “Was this Steven Jackson and Michelle Higggins,” and Ms Whyte replied: “Yes. They moved the body into the bathroom and he then slit her throat.”

The witness described Jackson as “very erratic and going in and out of a psychotic state.”

Ms Whyte was asked what else Jackson said to her and replied: “He said he cut her up.”

The witness was asked if Jackson had told her what was used to cut up the body and she said: “A saw – a brand new saw – that he got someone else to purchase.”

Ms Edwards said: “Mr Jackson told you he cut up Kimberley MacKenzie with a saw,” the witness replied: “He went on to tell me that Michelle Higgins was bipolar and having a manic attack and they used caustic soda to clean not just the body, but the house.”

She added: “He said he would never get caught.”

Ms Whyte was asked if Jackson told her anything else and said: “Yes. He put her in the bins and recycling bins and he was adamant that no one would ever find them.”

Philip Keilloh, 35, giving evidence last Thursday, said that he and his partner Penny Verrall told Michelle Higgins that Kimberley MacKenzie had had sex with Penny’s teenage son.

Mr Keilloh, from Montrose, said Higgins called her a ‘‘slut,’’ produced a knife and said ‘‘do you want her done?’’

The court heard that the three met in Market Street, Montrose, on October 27, last year – the day that Ms MacKenzie died.

Ms Verrall was, according to her partner, “ranting and raving” about Ms MacKenzie having slept with her son.

Mr Keilloh told the court he had been taking drugs intermittently since he was 15 and had been taking legal highs last year.

It was put to him by QC Mark Stewart, representing Higgins, that the conversation he described had never happened, and he said: “I don’t think I would make things up.”

During last Thursday’s evidence, QC Donald Findlay, representing Jackson, asked Mr Keilloh: “Did Michelle Higgins say ‘I can’t believe the slut would do something like that?” and he replied: “That could be accurate.”

Referring to Mr Keilloh’s police statement, the QC said: “You said she then said ‘do you want her done’” and the witness replied: “Yes, she did.”

He added: “She then said something like ‘Leave it with me.’ Was that the gist of it,” and Mr Keilloh replied: “Yes, that sort of thing.”

Mr Findlay added: “Michelle Higgins is offering to stab her,” and the witness replied: “Yes.”

QC Mark Stewart, representing Higgins, asked Mr Keilloh: “It was never suggested that she would hit Kim on the head with a hammer was it,” and he replied: “No.”

On Wednesday, the jury heard that Kimberley MacKenzie had sex with her best friend’s teenage son the night before she died.

Witness Danny Verrall, 20, told prosecutor Ashley Edwards QC that Ms MacKenzie was his mother Penelope Verrall’s best friend.

He said that on Monday, October 25, Ms MacKenzie, his brother Ryan and friend Le Davidson met at his mother’s house and then they went on to his place for the night.

At the time Mr Verrall was 19.

He was asked by Ms Edwards: “Did Kimberley MacKenzie spend the night and did you have sex,” and replied: “Yes.”

The court was told that on the morning of October 27, 2015, Mr Verrall returned to his mother’s house and his brother and Mr Davidson revealed that he and Ms MacKenzie had slept together.

Ms Edwards asked: “How did your mother react,” and he said: “She was very, very angry.”

Mr Verrall told the court that later that day when Ms MacKenzie called at the house she was refused entry.

Jackson and Higgins also deny attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dismembering Kimberley MacKenzie’s body using a saw, knives and a screwdriver, wrapping parts in bin liners and bags and hiding them in bins at 40 Market Street, Patons Lane, Chapel Street and 73 William Phillips Drive, all Montrose, between October 27 and November 4, 2015.

Higgins is accused of having a knife in her possession in High Street, Montrose, on October 27, 2015, and Jackson is charged with being concerned in the supply of heroin and Diazepam and having a machete at Fair O’Blair public house and 42 Balmoral Road, Blairgowrie, on November 3 and 4.