Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Morningside pensioner 'died from stabbing injuries to neck'

Morningside Grove Pic: Morag Kinniburgh
Image caption The court heard that Eleanor Whitelaw died following seven stab injuries to her neck

A pensioner suffered irreversible damage to her brain and heart as a result of stabbing injuries to her neck, a murder trial has been told.

Pathologist Dr Ian Wilkinson was giving evidence at the trial of Robert Buczek, 24, who denies murdering Eleanor Whitelaw.

Mr Buczek is accused of attacking the 85-year-old at her house in Morningside in Edinburgh on 11 July 2014.

She died from her injuries at the city's Royal Infirmary on 28 July.

Dr Wilkinson told the jury at the High Court in Glasgow that Mrs Whitelaw suffered cuts to the two main arteries in her neck - the jugular vein and the carotid artery.

He said that in total there were seven injuries to her neck.

The court was also told that Mrs Whitelaw sustained a fracture to the base of her skull and had bruising to her face and eyes.

The pathologist said these injuries to her head and face could have been caused by a fall.

The damage to her neck was repaired by surgeons but the massive blood loss she suffered resulted in damage to her brain and heart.

Bloodstained scissors

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC showed Dr Wilkinson a pair of bloodstained scissors found in the hallway of Mrs Whitelaw's home and asked if they could have caused the injuries to her neck. The pathologist said: "In general terms, yes."

Mr Prentice said: "Having regard to the injuries to the carotid artery and the jugular vein, would that cause significant bleeding?" Dr Wilkinson replied: "It would be expected to."

The prosecutor asked: "Would you have been surprised if you had been told she had died at the scene?" Dr Wilkinson said: "Based on my experience of other similar injuries, no I would not."

Image caption The court has heard that Eleanor Whitelaw was attacked on the doorstep of her home in Morningside Grove

The pathologist was asked what the cause of death was and told the court: "She suffered damage to the brain and the heart and deterioration of lung function and death as a result of complications of the injuries she received on July 11, with the neck injuries being the most significant.

"She suffered irreversible damage to all the major organs, the most significant were the brain and the heart.

Under cross-examination by defence QC Brian McConnachie, the jury heard that a police casualty surgeon had examined Mrs Whitelaw in hospital on 12 July and had indicated she had a cut and bruising on her private parts.

This injury was not evident when the post-mortem examination was carried out two weeks later.

An examination of Mrs Whitelaw on 12 July also revealed DNA from an unknown man on her thigh.

The court heard that Mr Buczek, who was arrested before Mrs Whitelaw died, was originally charged with attempted murder and a possible sexual offence. Later the charge was changed to murder with no sexual element to it.

Prosecutor Mr Prentice asked Dr Wilkinson: "There could be a number of reasons for these injuries to her private parts. It could have been a fall. It does not necessarily point to a sexual assault," and he replied: "Not necessarily, no."

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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