Wes Reid cleared of killing peacemaker in Dundee taxi rank scuffle

Image source, Edinburgh Courts Press Services
Image caption,
Brian Fox died in Ninewells Hospital after suffering a head injury

A man has been cleared of killing the peacemaker in a taxi rank scuffle in Dundee city centre on New Year's Day.

Wes Reid, 20, punched Brian Fox, 62, who suffered a fatal head injury when he fell and struck his head on the ground.

Mr Reid, of Newport Road in Tayport, Fife, denied killing Mr Fox and maintained he acted in self defence.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh acquitted him of culpable homicide on a majority not guilty verdict.

The court heard that as Mr Fox approached a group, including Mr Reid, in Nethergate he was heard to say "calm down".

Following the verdict the trial judge told jurors: "Mr Fox appears to have done absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever."

Lord Beckett said: "The punch which caused him to fall and die was one punch from a young person and it occurred in circumstances where Mr Fox, a much larger man, was approaching the person and reaching out."

The judge said: "I make no criticism of the verdict returned."

He added that it was "a very difficult case".

'Sought to help'

During an interview with police, Mr Reid told officers that he thought he was going to be punched and struck out with his right hand before Mr Fox hit the ground.

Mr Fox was taken to Ninewells Hospital where he later died.

He was asked how he felt to hear that Mr Fox had died and replied: "Extremely bad. Awful."

The Crown had sought a guilty verdict against Reid for culpable homicide and advocate depute Mark McGuire told jurors: "Brian Fox sought to help to try to diffuse the situation, to try to get people to calm down and it cost him his life."

He said: "On the evening of Hogmanay last year Brian Fox went into Dundee city centre to bring in New Year. It was the last New Year he was ever to see."

The prosecutor had argued that Mr Reid, who had also been out in the city centre, launched "a spontaneous and unprovoked attack".

Image source, Alan Richardson
Image caption,
The attacks at the taxi rank were caught on CCTV footage camera

Gordon Floyd, 52, was out with his wife when he saw Mr Fox walking towards two girls who were fighting.

He told the court: "I heard him say 'calm down'. One of the youths walked towards him and hit him. The guy fell to the ground. That's when I heard the crack."

Mr Reid's co-accused Adam Valentine, 25, had originally faced a charge of killing Mr Fox while acting together with Mr Reid.

Valentine admitted a reduced charge of assaulting Mr Fox by punching him on the body after the fatal blow had been struck.

Valentine, a first offender, was also found guilty of committing a further assault at the taxi rank when he pushed a woman, knocking her unconscious when her head struck the ground.

Shop manager Sandra Baird, 64, had been out for a meal with a friend before she was attacked.

She said she was pushed from behind and fell across the road and was knocked out. Ms Baird suffered a wound to her chin and has been left with tinnitus.

Valentine was convicted of assaulting her to her severe injury and to the danger of her life.

The attacks at the taxi rank were caught on camera and the jury were shown CCTV footage during the trial.

Sentencing was deferred until next month for the preparation of a background report.