Man cleared of killing Oban OAPs on health grounds

  • Published
Oskars RancevsImage source, Police Scotland
Image caption,
Oskars Rancevs will be returned to the State Hospital at Carstairs for further treatment

A man who killed two neighbours in a row over rubbish bins has been cleared on mental health grounds.

Oskars Rancevs, 33, was found not guilty of murdering ex-SAS soldier Martyn Smith, 73, and killing 75-year-old John Whyte last October.

Judge Lady Rae acquitted him and sent him to the State Hospital at Carstairs on an interim compulsion order.

The court had heard Rancevs told police after the attacks: "This is the best day I've ever had."

'Tragic case'

Lady Rae said: "This is a very tragic case.

"The prosecution has accepted a plea of not guilty on the basis the accused was suffering from a mental disorder to such a degree he was unable to realise the nature of the wrongfulness of his actions.

"It is clear from the reports that at the time Mr Rancevs was very seriously mentally ill."

Prosecutor Derick Nelson said Rancevs, who moved to the UK from Latvia in 2015, was a professional dancer.

The court heard he had appeared on a reality television dancing programme and also worked as a dancer on transatlantic cruises but began to suffer from episodes of mental illness.

Image source, Police Scotland
Image caption,
Martyn Smith and John Whyte died on 1 October last year

In the lead-up to the killings, a number of people expressed concerns about Rancevs after he behaved erratically while his step-father also contacted the local mental health services and the police.

The court heard that Mr Smith had previously complained about Rancevs putting the wrong rubbish in the bin.

At 09:30 on 1 October last year, Rancevs approached Mr Smith as he stood outside the block of flats talking to Mr Whyte.

Violent attack

He began to throw rubbish from a bin bag at Mr Smith, then walked away before turning back and pushing him on the chest three times.

Mr Smith fell to the ground and as he tried to get back up, Rancevs, who is 6ft 1in tall, kicked him on the head, and then jumped on his chest with both feet.

As Mr Smith tried to crawl away, Rancevs kicked him on the back and then grabbed him by his coat and dragged him downhill and placed him between two parked cars.

He then climbed on to the bonnet of one of the cars and jumped on top of Mr Smith before pouring a laundry basket filled with rubbish over him.

A post-mortem examination later found he died from blunt force trauma and had multiple rib fractures and a fractured sternum.

999 call

The court heard Rancevs also kicked Mr Whyte on the stomach twice. The pensioner dialled 999 and went back into his flat.

But as he spoke to the operator, she heard what appeared to be gurgling and heavy breathing and then received no further response.

He was found dead when police forced entry to his home at 20:10.

Mr Whyte, who had long-standing heart disease and high blood pressure, died from cardiac arrest caused by stress.

Psychiatrists believe Rancevs was suffering from bipolar affective disorder with a manic episode.

He will be detained meantime at the State Hospital and the case will call again in February.