Assault victim changes his mind in court

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A victim of savage drugs violence in Motherwell claimed in court he didn’t know who slashed him – despite telling police the alleged attacker’s name three times.

Van driver Frank Murdoch (54) needed specialist hospital treatment for serious facial injuries after he was assaulted during an early hours rendezous.

At first he told police officers that 31-year-old James Moody was the man who had taken a knife to his face and robbed him of his car.

Murdoch also picked out his alleged attacker from a book of police photographs and at a video identification parade.

However, by the time his trial came round at Hamilton Sheriff Court last week he had changed his tune, claiming that Moody had nothing to do with the assault and that two other men whom he couldn’t identify were responsible.

His about turn forced the Crown to ditch the prosecution, meaning Moody, who had been on remand at HMP Addiewell, was free to leave.

He had denied assaulting Murdoch to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment, and robbing him of his vehicle, near flats in Merry Street on November 29 last year.

Solicitor Stephen MacBride had lodged a special defence of incrimination, blaming the attack on “two men known to the accused only as John and Thomas”.

Murdoch told Lisa Lann, prosecuting, he suffered a cut to his eye, two black eyes and a burst lip, and lost front teeth.

Asked what happened to him, Murdoch said he couldn’t sleep and decided to go for a drive in his Audi Estate about 3.30 in the morning.

He told the court: “I was going to see somebody. I was going to get something for myself. I went to Addie Street in Motherwell, but a person, James Moody, phoned me and said it was the wrong address.”

Murdoch told Ms Lann that he didn’t really know Moody and, in fact, hadn’t even met him before that night. He was told to go instead to flats in Jerviston, a neighbourhood he didn’t know.

The witness went on: “I picked up James Moody. I think he stays in one of the flats there. I went to drop him off. I was there for a minute or so then a couple of guys came to the driver’s door, opened it and pulled the keys out of the ignition. Then they set about me.

“Moody was still in the passenger seat. He wasn’t doing anything but the other two were battering me and one of them had a Stanley knife.

“I didn’t get a look at the two guys because it happened that fast. I got out of the car and ran to a petrol garage and the girl there phoned an ambulance and the police.”

Ms Lann pointed out that Murdoch had taken an oath to tell the truth and wondered why the evidence he was giving in court differed from three statements he’d made to the police in which there was no mention of two unidentified men.

Murdoch replied: “I was away getting drugs for myself. I didn’t want my wife and daughter to know so I gave a different story.

“I picked out James Moody because I actually thought he had set me up to get a tanking.

“Later I found out that Mr Moody had got my car back. He told someone where the car was and that the other two people were going to burn it out. He stopped them from doing it.”

Asked by the fiscal if he still thought Moody was involved in the attack on him, Murdoch answered: “No.”

At this, Ms Lann told the court the Crown would be leading no more evidence and a formal not guilty verdict was returned.