Glasgow & West Scotland

Sharkey trial: Crown outlines case against accused

Thomas Sharkey Snr, Bridget and Thomas Jnr
Image caption Thomas Sharkey Snr, Bridget and Thomas Jnr died following the fire

The blaze which killed three members of the Sharkey family was set by Robert Jennings on the instructions of Scott Snowden, according to prosecutors.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice has been giving his closing speech in the fire deaths murder trial.

Mr Jennings and Mr Snowden deny murdering Thomas Sharkey Snr, his son Thomas Jnr, and daughter Bridget.

Mr Prentice said that there was a repeating pattern woven into the fabric of the evidence.

Thomas Sharkey Jnr, 21, and his sister, Bridget, eight, died in the blaze at their home in Scott Court in Helensburgh on 24 July 2011. Their father, aged 55, died in hospital days later.

Both Mr Jennings, 50 and Mr Snowden, 37, also deny a charge of attempting to murder Mr Sharkey's wife, Angela, 48, who survived the fire, and a number of other separate charges.

Evidence strands

Speaking about a pattern of evidence, Mr Prentice told the jury at the High Court: "One you might not see close up but when you stand back and look at the whole body of evidence like a tapestry, you see it.

"It is this: If you humiliate, cross or even just annoy Scott Snowden he will exact awful revenge upon you.

"The act itself, more often than not, will be committed by Robert Jennings while Scott Snowden has a cast iron alibi."

Mr Prentice told the jurors that their role was two-fold - to ask themselves if the crime was committed and if so were the accused responsible.

Image caption Angela Sharkey was the only family member to survive the fire

He said that the case was a circumstantial one and added: "This can be described as being like the strands of a cable. Each strand may on their own be quite weak, but as they join with other strands the cable gets stronger. The more strands you have the stronger it is."

The prosecutor said that the Crown position is that Mr Snowden was out of the country in Mexico when the Sharkey fire took place and added that the Crown is asking the jury to find him guilty of "acting in concert" with Mr Jennings.

The advocate depute gave the example of a crime boss who set up an armed bank robbery in which three people took part. Only one of the robbers went into the bank and shot someone dead during the robbery.

In this case Mr Prentice told the jury everyone of those involved would be guilty of murder and he said: "We call this art and part or acting in concert.

"That is the case against Scott Snowden."

Mr Prentice told the jury that the evidence in the trial had lifted the curtain on "a world of violence, intimidation and drug dealing."

He added: "You may take the view that others should be in the dock and you may be right.

"But that doesn't mean you are distracted from your core questions - was the crime committed and did the accused do it."

People's walks

Earlier, before the closing speeches began, the trial heard that CCTV footage taken shortly before and after the fatal blaze was not suitable for analysis.

Glasgow Caledonian University lecturer Gordon Burrow, 59, said he was asked by police to examine footage of a person filmed on the streets of Helensburgh.

He said the "blurred" footage made it hard to say what sex the person was.

Mr Burrow, who is also a member of the forensic sciences society, told the jury he was an expert in how people walk.

He was asked by defence QC Ian Duguid, representing Mr Jennings, how he looked at people's walks and replied: "I look at how the body moves from one area to another."

The court heard that he viewed the CCTV footage in which a figure is seen walking across the junction of John Street and West Princes Street, Helensburgh, for about two hours.

Mr Duguid asked: "Were you able to assist the police," and Mr Burrow replied: "Not really. The figure I saw was quite some distance from the camera. The person was quite blurred in the image."

Mr Burrow added: "It was extremely difficult to see if it was a male or female. All we were seeing was a side-on view of the individual. I didn't think the footage was suitable for analysis."

Under cross-examination by advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, prosecuting, Mr Burrow was asked if "a particular gait" could be recognisable to someone who might know the person.

Mr Burrow said: "That's correct."

The trial before Lord Matthews continues.

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