Tayside and Central Scotland

Annalise Johnstone's brother Jordan is cleared of her murder

Annalise and Jordan Johnstone Image copyright Police Scotland/Facebook
Image caption Jordan Johnstone denied murdering his 22-year-old sister Annalise

The brother of a woman whose body was found at a Perthshire memorial has been cleared of her murder.

Jordan Johnstone, 25, was accused of killing Annalise Johnstone, 22, at the Maggie's Wall memorial near Dunning before dumping her body last May.

The case against him was found not proven following a trial at the High Court in Livingston.

Johnstone had blamed his former co-accused Angela Newlands, who was previously cleared of all charges.

Image caption Gordon Johnstone said the not proven verdict should be scrapped

Speaking outside the court, Annalise and Jordan Johnstone's father Gordon said he was "totally shocked" at the not-proven verdict and called for it to be scrapped.

He said: "They have to abolish it. Get the guys in the wigs to abolish it."

Mr Johnstone said his daughter "always had a smile on her face."

He said: "I don't know how life's going to carry on now, I've got that dark cloud above my head now.

"I'm still trying to get my head round it, it'll take a long time.

"I want answers, that's all I want at the end of the day. And if I can't get answers I'll be lost."

Image caption Annalise Johnstone's body was discovered in May 2018

The trial was told that the cause of Ms Johnstone's death was a deep puncture wound to her neck, which severed vital veins and arteries and caused death within a few minutes.

Johnstone had denied murdering his sister, but admitted dumping her body and disposing of her clothing.

A jury reached a majority not proven verdict following the nine-day trial before judge Lady Scott.

What is the not proven verdict?

Scotland, unlike most of the world's legal systems, has three possible verdicts in criminal cases - guilty, not guilty and not proven.

The legal implications of a not proven verdict are exactly the same as not guilty verdict - the accused is acquitted and is innocent in the eyes of the law.

Not proven is seen by some as offering additional protection to the accused, ensuring they will not be convicted if the jury has any doubts.

But critics argue that it is confusing for juries and the public, can stigmatise an accused person by appearing not to clear them and fails to provide closure for victims.

Johnstone was convicted of assaulting another sister Shabbana in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, a few days before Annalise died.

Advocate depute Alex Prentice said in view of the time Johnstone had spent in custody on remand he did not move for sentence on the minor assault charge.

Judge Lady Scott told Johnstone he would be released from custody.

'Not evidence'

Johnstone had told the court that Angela Newlands cut his sister's throat with a Stanley knife after going to look at the monument, which marks the spot where a woman is said to have been burnt as a witch in 1657.

He said he remained in the car with Ms Newlands' sleeping children.

Johnstone said he later carried his sister's body for about 40 minutes before dumping it behind a wall about two miles away because he feared Miss Newlands' father was going to "chop my wee sister up and throw her away".

The prosecution and defence had confirmed that Johnstone's car was near the Maggie's Wall Memorial at the time Miss Johnstone was attacked.

Earlier in the trial, Lady Scott warned the jury that any allegations made by one accused against another were not evidence.

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