UPDATED: Montrose murder trial: Police give more evidence

Judge Lady Rae questions police officer about the system of searching a house
Judge Lady Rae questions police officer about the system of searching a house

A murder accused had a chainsaw in his house days after he allegedly killed a woman, a court heard on Thursday.

PCs Paul Convoy and Debbie Ironside said they searched Steven Jackson’s Montrose flat on October 29, last year and saw the power tool.

Officer Convoy claimed Jackson told them “it’s a friend’s and no longer has a motor”.

The judge, Lady Rae, questioned PC Ironside about the system of searching a house and said: “You are the fourth officer that didn’t search that bathroom in that flat, that day.”

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

The court heard officers Convoy and Ironside went to Jackson’s flat as part of an investigation into Ms Mackenzie’s whereabouts after she was reported missing.

PC Convoy told the jury: “He informed us that he doesn’t have much contact with Kimberley anymore and the reason for that is because he was now in a relationship with Michelle.”

The witness said he looked around the living room, kitchen and the hallway.

Asked if he went into the bathroom he said: “I didn’t, no.”

The witness was asked if anything attracted his attention when he was leaving the house and said: “A chainsaw.”

He described it as being “in open view within a recess area” behind the front door.

Advocate depute Ashley Edwards QC prosecuting, asked: “Did you mention that to Mr Jackson?”

He replied: “He (Jackson) told me not to worry about it, that it was a friend’s and that no longer had a motor.”

PC Ironside also said she saw “two or three black bin liners which were at least half full” in the house and were tied shut.

Miss Edwards asked what impression she formed about the volume of the bags.

The officer replied: “It seemed quite a square shape that was in these bin bags, square or rectangle, they were at least half full.”

She said she didn’t mention anything about them.

The witness also said she saw the chainsaw and that Jackson told them “it was his mate’s” and had no motor.

The court heard officers searched the property earlier the same day and none of them looked in the bathroom.

Judge Lady Rae asked: “When you asked to search a house, what does that actually mean?”

PC Ironside replied: “A look around” and explained it meant all of the house.

The judge asked: “Is there some sort of special system in Montrose about searching?

“You’re the fourth officer that didn’t search that bathroom in that flat, that day.”

The officer answered: “Usually we communicate.”

In earlier evidence PC Dawn Faulkner told the court neither her or her colleague searched the bathroom when they were in on October 29, last year.

She told the court it was “miscommunication”.

Ms Mackenzie was hit with a hammer “six or seven times” before she was “finished off” by her throat being cut, the trial also heard on Thursday.

PC Gary Smith (45) told the jury Steven Jackson claimed he “had lost a year and a day of his life” for the “murder of Kim” when police turned up at his house.

The officer said there was a smell in the communal area of the flats outside Jackson’s door that he associated with a dead person.

He told the High Court in Glasgow that Jackson let him and his colleague into his house on November 4, last year, and without asking questions about Miss MacKenzie, he made the confession.

PC Smith said: “Steven repeatedly told us that he had lost a year and a day of his life.”

The court heard he seemed in a “trance-like state” although that didn’t last long.

PC Smith told the court he explained to Jackson that an arrest the previous week and a weekend in the cells was not jail.

Jurors heard Jackson then said: “No, no, a year and a day in prison for the murder” and when asked what he meant he said “the murder of Kim”.

The witness said they clarified Jackson meant Kimberly MacKenzie and that he was cautioned that he did not have to say anything to the police.

Miss Edwards asked: “What did Mr Jackson go on to tell you?”

PC Smith answered: “He said that Kim had offered him sex in exchange for drugs and that Michelle had heard this as she had been through in the bedroom.

“He then went on to say that Michelle came rushing through with a hammer and started hitting Kim in the head with the hammer.

“He said that Michelle had hit Kim six or seven times in the head with the hammer and that Kim had slumped in the chair towards the wall in the living room.

“He then stated that he finished her off by cutting her throat.”

Asked if those were the exact words Jackson used, the officer replied: “It’s certainly something very similar if not the exact words.”

The court heard Jackson then directed officers to a saw and hammer in the kitchen.

PC Smith claimed Jackson told him he cut Miss MacKenzie’s arms at the wrists, elbows and shoulders.

And, that Jackson had cut her head off and torso into two.

The witness said the accused also claimed to have cut Miss MacKenzie’s thighs off and that they “had been quite heavy”.

The officer said Jackson told him he put her body parts in black bags and one had burst and “blood would have been on the floor in the living room”.

Miss Edwards asked what Jackson told him about the bathroom and he answered: “He said that that was where the body had lay in the bath while police had been in his house.”

Jurors were also told Jackson said the dismembering had taken place in the bath and that he and Michelle cleaned up any mess using bleach.

The court heard an inspector arrived and gave orders what to do and PC Smith took Jackson to the police station.

The witness told the court Jackson claimed the body parts were taken to a different address in another part of Montrose.

Jurors heard he was told the address was of a John Bryce who also goes by the name John Cook.

Jackson and Higgins are accused of murdering Ms MacKenzie by repeatedly striking her on the head, neck and body with a hammer or similar instrument at 40A Market Street, Montrose, on October 27, last year.

They are also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dismembering her body using a saw, knives and a screwdriver and wrapping parts of her body 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.

Both deny the charges against them.

The trial continues.