Inverness murderer's appeal told of brain injuries
A man jailed for murdering his cousin after faking a will in an attempt to inherit £25,000 has started an appeal against his conviction.
Ian Geddes, 55, was convicted of smothering Charlie McKay with a pillow in Inverness in March 2003, then making it look like he had fallen down stairs.
Geddes, jailed for life in 2005, claims new medical evidence clears him.
The first day of his hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh took evidence on brain injuries.
Consultant neuro-pathologist Dr Safa Al-Sarraj developed techniques with colleagues at London's King's College Hospital that he said had revealed tiny injuries in Mr McKay's brain.
Dr Al-Sarraj said that the results of his tests were consistent with a fall.
Defence QC David Burns asked the doctor: "Could you envisage a fall, possibly a complex fall down these stairs, producing the sort of damage you saw?"
Dr Al-Sarraj said "yes" and added: "If I conclude fall I would now be telling the truth. I could say it was compatible."
The consultant went on to describe how the damage he detected in Mr McKay's brain would have developed quite slowly over time as the man lay unconscious.
He told Mr Burns he did not think that suffocation would allow time for such neurological damage to develop.
Dr Al-Sarraj said: "If a patient dies quickly, you would not see anything in the brain."
The consultant told advocate depute Peter Ferguson QC, for the Crown, that it was difficult to tell what had caused someone's death from looking at the brain.
External signs such as bruising of other injuries found at autopsy were often a more reliable guide, he said.
Lord Eassie, sitting with Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and Lord Emslie, expect to hear evidence and legal argument for the next two weeks.
In 2005, at the High Court in Edinburgh, a jury found Geddes guilty of murder after hearing claims that Mr McKay was drugged then smothered with a pillow in his bed then moved to the bottom of stairs at his home to make it look like an accident.
Mr McKay's death was initially put down as natural causes until his daughter found fake will documents in the house.
Passing sentence, Lord Bracadale ordered Geddes to serve at least 15 years before being eligible for parole.