Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

James Dunleavy accused of beheading his mother Philomena

Phyllis Dunleavy Image copyright Other
Image caption James Dunleavy denies killing his mother Philomena

A man has gone on trial accused of beheading and dismembering his mother then burying her on an Edinburgh hill.

James Dunleavy, also known as Seamus Dunleavy, denies battering to death Philomena, 66, of Marino, Dublin between 30 April and 7 May last year.

He also denies attempting to defeat the ends of justice by trying to cover up the alleged murder and destroy evidence.

Mr Dunleavy, 40, had been living in a flat in Edinburgh's Balgreen Road.

The murder charge alleges that it was there that he inflicted "blunt force trauma" by means unknown, compressed his mother's throat and cut off her head and legs.

A second charge accuses Mr Dunleavy of pretending his mother was unwell and had returned to Ireland.

The charge further alleges that he put his mother's torso, severed legs and head into a suitcase and took the dismembered body to Corstorphine Hill where he buried her.

Prosecutors also claim that Mr Dunleavy vacuumed and washed his flat to remove blood stains and set fire to a bed and mattress.

Skull find

A cyclist told the court how he found teeth and a skull in a woodland clearing.

Aaron McLean-Foreman, a 24-year-old professional ski instructor, had been in Edinburgh city centre and had borrowed his father's bike to cycle to his home in the East Craigs area of the city.

The Corstorphine Hill nature reserve was slightly out of his way, he said.

"I did not mind the detour and enjoying the sunny weather," he said, adding: "I decided to have a break in the sunshine and relax and enjoy the fine weather".

It was then he spotted teeth and a skull nearby.

He said: "I have seen a fair share of sheep skulls and deer skulls while walking in the hills. I wanted to believe that was what I was looking at - but it was fairly clear that was not what I was looking at."

Mr McLean-Foreman took a photo so that he could lead police back to the spot, and then left.

"I believe I went into a state something like shock," he said.

The trial at the High Court in Edinburgh continues.

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