Tayside and Central Scotland

Man on trial for murder of Perthshire jeweller

Croft Park Image copyright Kingdom News
Image caption Mr Gardner's body was found at his home in Balbeggie

A pizza chef has gone on trial charged with murdering a Perthshire jeweller by hitting him on the head with a metal pan.

Nikola Zhulev, 30, also denies binding Alan Gardner's feet together with tape and concealing his body in a duvet.

He is also accused of digging a grave for him with the intention of concealing the body in woodland at St Martin's near Guildtown, Perth.

Mr Gardner, 49, was found dead in a bedroom of his home on 20 April.

Mr Zhulev is charged with hiding the keys of Mr Gardner's Toyota Rav4 in a jar of coffee in his flat in a bid to defeat the ends of justice.

A spade wrapped in a tea towel, along with a receipt from Homebase in Perth dated 23 April - the day Mr Gardner's estranged wife Jennifer reported him missing - were recovered from the boot of the Toyota.

Imprint from pan

A jury at the High Court in Livingston was read a lengthy list of agreed evidence including comprehensive footage from CCTV cameras in Scone and Perth, including one installed at the home of Mr Gardner's next door neighbour in Balbeggie.

Advocate depute Jane Farquharson revealed that the Crown had prepared an overlay presentation of accurate scale drawings showing injuries on Mr Gardner's right upper lateral forehead along with an imprint taken from the underside of a frying pan recovered from his kitchen.

Jurors were informed that a post-mortem report on 15 July 2015 concluded that the medical cause of Mr Gardner's death was "unascertained" but possibly related to "head injury, asphyxia, acute and chronic alcoholism, and/or athersclerotic cardiothoracic disease".

In addition to the charge of murdering Mr Gardner in his home in Balbeggie, Perthshire, between 19 and 23 April last year, Mr Zhulev is alleged to have stolen valuables from the house and pawned them for cash, as well as using Mr Gardner's credit card to buy takeaway food.

Takeaway driver

The Bulgarian national, who has also worked as a takeaway delivery driver, allegedly stole Mr Gardner's car, a car key, jewellery, a credit card and a number of cameras from the house between 18 and 20 April.

It is alleged that the married father went to Ramsdens store in Perth High Street on 21 April and obtained £171.28 fraudulently by pawning stolen jewellery. He allegedly tried to sell similar items at the Money Shop in Perth the day before.

Mr Zhulev is also alleged to have used Mr Gardner's credit card without authority to buy £30.40 worth of takeaway food via a website.

He is also also accused of possessing heroin in Scott Street, Perth, on 22 and 23 April and to have been concerned in the supply of the class "A" drug.

Zhulev, formerly of Perth, and now described as a prisoner, denies all the charges against him.

The trial, before Lady Rae, continues.

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