Glasgow & West Scotland

Garage owner 'saw murder accused with knife'

Michael O'Hanlon Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Michael O'Hanlon won the National Amateur Body Building Association Mr Scotland title in March 2016

A garage owner has told a trial he saw the man accused of murdering Mr Scotland bodybuilding champion holding a bloodstained "Rambo" knife.

Ian Hamilton, 40, owns the garage in Stevenston, North Ayrshire, where Steven Kirkwood is alleged to have killed Michael O'Hanlon on 25 July.

Mr Hamilton told the High Court in Glasgow he saw Mr O'Hanlon and Mr Kirkwood embroiled in a fight.

Mr Kirkwood denies murder, lodging a special defence of self-defence.

Mr Hamilton told prosecutor Richard Goddard that Mr Kirkwood drove up and walked into the garage at about midday.

He told the jury that Mr O'Hanlon, who was 5ft 10in and 17 stone, arrived about a minute later with his friend Forbes Cowan, a past runner-up in the World's Strongest Man competition, who is 6ft 3in and at the time weighed about 20 stone.

Mr Hamilton said there was a heated exchange between Mr Cowan and Mr Kirkwood.

Mr Kirkwood had said the issue had nothing to do with Mr Cowan, and was about Mr O'Hanlon's "stupid bird".

The court had earlier heard that abusive texts and Facebook messages had been exchanged between Mr Kirkwood and his former partner Eileen O'Hanlon, who was planning to marry Mr O'Hanlon.

'Stumbled backwards'

Mr O'Hanlon then approached Mr Kirkwood and they became embroiled in a fight for about five seconds.

Mr Goddard asked: "What happened next," and Mr Hamilton replied: "Michael backed up out the office stumbling backwards. At that point I saw Steven had a knife in his right hand."

He said: "It was a large Bowie-type knife with a six to eight inch blade with a bright coloured handle. A Rambo serrated on one side."

Defence QC Derek Ogg said to Mr Hamilton: "The only way Steven Kirkwood was going out of that office was through Mr O'Hanlon and Mr Cowan," and he replied: "Yes".

Mr Hamilton confirmed that both Mr O'Hanlon and Mr Kirkwood had exchanged blows during the struggle.

The jury also heard Mr Cowan's Nissan Outlander had been blocking the entrance to the garage.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Kirkwood struggled with Mr O'Hanlon, punched him and repeatedly struck him on the body with a knife or similar item.

Mr O'Hanlon's friend Forbes Cowan, 53, later told the court he had travelled to the meeting with the bodybuilding champion.

Mr Cowan was asked by prosecutor Richard Goddard: "Did you take any weapons with you," and he replied: "No."

'Punching each other'

He described Mr Kirkwood as "aggressive" and said that it looked as if he and Mr O'Hanlon started punching each other.

Mr Cowan added: "It looked as if he was punching Michael a few times with his right hand."

When asked where the blows came into contact on Mr O'Hanlon's body, he replied: "The torso."

Mr Cowan said Mr O'Hanlon left the garage office first and as he looked in the office he saw Mr Kirkwood with a knife in his right hand.

He was asked about Mr O'Hanlon's condition and replied: "He wasn't in a good state. I was speaking to him and keeping a eye on Steven Kirkwood who was still holding the knife."

Mr Goddard asked: "Did Mr Kirkwood do anything to assist," and Mr Cowan told the court: "Nothing. He just stood there with the knife in his right hand. He just stood looking at Michael for three or four minutes then he left the office and walked out."

Mr Cowan told the jury he saw four injuries to Mr O'Hanlon on both sides of his abdomen, his left shoulder and under his left arm and added: "There could have been one to his right shoulder."

He said: "I thought he was breathing but it was just air coming from his lungs."

Mr Kirkwood also denies a separate charges of having a knife in a public place and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of it.

The trial before judge Lady Rae continues.

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