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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Friends 'beat pensioner to death over child sex claims'

12-14-2004 United Kingdom:
John Fallen, 69, of Dunfermline, was found dead early on January 2 following the New Year’s Day attack.

A neighbour told the jury that she heard heated conversation in Mr Fallen’s flat and then the fearful cries of the elderly widower, known to his friends as Jack.

The High Court in Dunfermline was told that Neil Dougal, 36, of Glenrothes, and his friend Mark Hunter, 39, of Dunfermline, who both deny culpable homicide, had been drinking vodka with their partners on New Year’s Day when they decided to visit Mr Fallen to “find out the truth” about the child abuse claims.

The pensioner, whose wife had died two years earlier, lived alone with his dog. His flat was just a few minutes’ walk from Mr Dougal’s home, where the two accused had been drinking.

Jacqueline Gorniak, 28, Mr Hunter’s partner, who was giving evidence yesterday, said that the two men had returned after about ten minutes. Mr Dougal described how he punched and kicked Mr Fallen and stamped on his head, she said. Later he phoned a friend and bragged that he had “done the business”.

Ms Gorniak said she felt sick when she heard what they had done. She said she was not convinced that the sexual assault allegations were true. She said that the men told her that Mr Hunter had been the first to throw a punch. “Neil had asked (Mr Fallen) if the allegations were true and that’s when Mark hit him,” she said.

Later at about 4.30am Mr Hunter and Ms Gorniak left Mr Dougal’s house to return home and passed Mr Fallen’s flat, where police were erecting a scene-of-crime tape. She said that Mr Hunter had wished the policeman a happy new year and asked him what had happened, but the policeman had refused to say.

Earlier Mr Fallen’s American neighbour, Dorothy Todd, 70, said that she heard the pensioner cry out in terror shortly before he was found dead. She said she had heard voices in Mr Fallen’s flat from about 9.30pm and they suddenly got louder at about 11.30pm. At that point, she said, her whole flat shook for a few minutes as if it had been hit by an earthquake. After watching two people leave, she tried to call Mr Fallen but got no answer so she rang his daughter, who called police.

Christine Atherton, Mr Dougal’s sister, said that her brother “loved” Mr Fallen and treated him like a member of the family. “Michelle (her brother’s partner) and Neil were very close to him. They saw each other every day. They were very upset at the allegations. But Neil said he would let the police deal with it,” she said.

The trial continues. ..more.. by Shirley English

Attacker 'left footprints on skull of dead pensioner'
12-15-2004 United Kingdom:
A PENSIONER kicked to death in his own home was struck with such force his attacker left several footprints imprinted on his skull, a court has heard.

A pathologist yesterday told the High Court in Dunfermline that John Fallen, 69, died after a single blow to the head caused a massive brain haemorrhage.

Professor Derek Pounder said he was in no doubt that the fatal blow had been struck while Mr Fallen had been lying on the ground. He added that, before Mr Fallen died, he had been kicked at least 15 times in the head.

Prof Pounder told the High Court: "Mr Fallen sustained a number of punches, kicks and stamps targeted around the eyes, ears and cheeks. Some of the injuries had the pattern of a shoe imprinted on the victim’s skin surrounding the skull."

Mr Fallen was found dead in his Dunfermline flat just after midnight on January 2 this year. The court was told that the two men accused of killing him, Neil Dougal, 36, and Mark Hunter, 39, had been drinking on New Year’s Day when they decided to confront Mr Fallen about rumours he had molested a girl.

Dougal’s brother, John Dougal, told the court that while his brother had admitted visiting Mr Fallen, he said the pensioner was alive and standing when he had left.

Dougal, of Glenrothes, and Hunter, of Dunfermline, both deny assaulting Mr Fallen, repeatedly punching him, kicking him, stamping on his head and body and killing him. The trial continues. ..more.. by Evening News

Suspect in death trial 'threatened co-accused'
12-17-2004 United Kingdom:
THE trial of two brothers-in-law accused of beating a pensioner to death has heard claims that one had threatened the other with repercussions in jail.

David Burns QC made the allegation yesterday as he defended landscape gardener Mark Hunter. Hunter, 39, is jointly accused with 36-year-old Neil Dougal of the culpable homicide of 69-year-old John Fallen at his home in Dunfermline on New Year’s Day this year.

Each has blamed the other for giving Mr Fallen a severe beating after hearing rumours that he had sexually abused a young girl. In evidence, Dougal admitted being at Mr Fallen’s house on the night he died and said he "couldn’t believe it" when he learned of his death.

He said his wife had phoned Hunter, who came round to his flat and they agreed to tell police that they had all been drinking together on the night of the incident and that none of them had left at any point. The court heard that Hunter broke the pact and told police that they had visited the old man. Hunter said that while he had hit Mr Fallen once and kicked him twice, Dougal "lost it" and kicked and punched him repeatedly.

Mr Burns, cross-examining Dougal, accused him of threatening Hunter as the two arrived at court yesterday. Dougal replied: "He’s also threatened me. My whole family got threatened today."

Dougal, of Glenrothes, and Hunter, of Dunfermline, both deny the charge of culpable homicide. The trial continues. ..more.. by Evening News

Men jailed for vigilante killing: Dougal and Hunter were jailed for a total of 20 years
1-18-2005 United Kingdom:
Two men have been jailed for a total of 20 years for battering a pensioner to death after hearing he had been accused of being a paedophile. Neil Dougal and his brother-in-law Mark Hunter were found guilty of the assault on 69-year-old Jack Fallen at his home in Dunfermline last January.

The retired dockyard worker was kicked and stamped on up to 20 times.

At the High Court in Forfar, Dougal, 36, and Hunter, 39, were each jailed for 10 years. At their trial, the High Court in Dunfermline heard how the pair had conned their way into Mr Fallen's home after hearing he had been arrested for abusing a young girl.

Some of the blows received by Mr Fallen, who lived alone, were so fierce that training shoe imprints were left on his body. He died of a brain haemorrhage.

There is no question, but that I have a duty to impose custodial sentences of a significant length

Lord Brodie

Dougal, a house painter, and Hunter, a landscape gardener, were found guilty of killing the elderly widower on New Year's Day 2004.

They had blamed each other for landing the fatal blow.

Sentencing them, Lord Brodie said: "You must both understand you have been found guilty 'art and part' for the culpable homicide of the late Mr Fallen and the sentences I impose must reflect that.

"There is no question, but that I have a duty to impose custodial sentences of a significant length.

"The jury were entitled to find you both went, not with the intention of killing him, but to seriously assault him.

"The evidence from the post-mortem report and from the witness in the upstairs flat from what she heard, point to a very severe assault on an elderly man who was alone in his house. I do not see significant differences between your positions."

'Ugly conversation'

Mr Fallen had been arrested over Christmas 2003 and accused of sexually abusing a child, which he admitted to police was true.

When news of Mr Fallen's arrest as a suspected paedophile reached the close-knit community around Haig Crescent, Dunfermline, Dougal and Hunter hatched a plan to beat up Mr Fallen, who had been released on bail six days earlier.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice said the duo had an "ugly conversation" and then decided to "go round and sort old Jack out".

Each claimed the other had been "jubilant", having "done in a beast" and that they had left the house first while their victim was still alive.

Fife Constabulary launched a murder hunt, but six days later Hunter came forward and confessed what he and his brother-in-law had done.

From the start he tried to blame Dougal, telling police he had "lost it" and "wellied" the old man, but Dougal claimed Hunter had egged him on.

Vigilante action is not noble and is never justified

Det Insp Alex Watson

However, after an eight-day trial the jury took less than 90 minutes to find both men guilty of culpable homicide.

Dougal, now of Julian Court, Glenrothes and Hunter, of Robertson Road, Dunfermline, showed no emotion as they were led away from court.

Counsel Matt Jackson, representing Hunter, said his client was "a man who felt a very heavy burden of conscience upon himself".

Detective Inspector Alex Watson said: "We were convinced Mr Fallen knew his killers and had let them in. There was very little sign of any disturbance.

"Every time Mark Hunter looked out of his bedroom window in Robertson Road he would have seen the police incident bus.

"He obviously couldn't live with what he had done. Vigilante action is not noble and is never justified." ..more.. by BBC News

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