Death by strangulation, jury told

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A man accused of murdering his sister by strangling her yesterday told a jury: “I loved my sister. I’d love to have my sister back with me now.”

Charles Gordon (52) denies murdering his sister Elizabeth Bowe at her home in St Andrews on September 17, last year.

In the witness box at Glasgow High court today (Thursday) he claimed his sister had ripped her clothes off, told him she would get him jailed for rape and threatened to cut his face with a knife.

He said he just “reacted instinctively’ and grabbed her throat.

Gordon was yesterday acquitted of raping his sister after the Crown withdrew that charge.

The High Court in Glasgow has heard that Gordon made a 999 call at 9.24pm on September 17, last year, saying: “I think I’ve killed my sister.”

Police, who arrived on the scene in minutes, found her lying on the floor naked from the waist down and dying. Gordon was sitting on the sofa smoking a cigarette.

In evidence Gordon told solicitor advocate Iain Paterson that his sister, whom he was staying with, was in a bad mood because he refused to walk into St Andrews town centre on an errand for her.

He told the jury: “She was angry. She started stripping her clothes off and threatening to accuse me of rape. She said: “I’m going to get you 18 years in the jail dafty for raping me.’”

Mr Paterson asked Gordon how he felt about this and he replied: “I laughed about it. I couldn’t quite believe it. It was bewildering, confusing. “

Gordon claimed his sister then threatened to get a knife and cut his face and added: “I grabbed hold of her by her throat with my left hand.

“I just kept hold of her. She started flailing at me. The anger in her face kind of frightened me. That was a bit of a scary moment. She was trying to throw punches, spouting, growling.

“I kept a hold of her until she hit the floor. She slumped and went down. When she went down I let her go.”

Gordon said he went over to check her pulse, but could not find any.

He added: “I went to check her breathing. There was blood all over her. I didn’t want to get blood on my ear. I wiped the blood off her mouth with a poly bag and then I checked again.”

Gordon was asked if he was angry and replied: “No, I was frightened.”

He then said: “I wish my sister was alive today. I didn’t want her dead, but what happened, happened. I wanted to stop her from carrying on her attack.”

Gordon told the jury he was attending bereavement counselling and added: “I won’t be able to deal with the grief until I get the day over. I’ve got enough going on in my head without suffering the grief over my sister.”

Prosecutor Mr McSporran said to Gordon: “That night something happened between you and your sister, which we will never know about, but she ended up half naked,” and he replied: “She ended up naked by her actions and ended up dead attacking me.”

Mr McSporran went on: “It’s stupid lies you’re telling,” and Gordon replied: “No, it’s not. That’s what happened.”

Earlier pathologist Dr David Sadler told the court that Ms Bowe (50) who was 5ft 6in and weighed seven stones four lbs, died from strangulation.

He said the evidence which included internal and external bruising and two broken bones in the neck led him to favour manual strangulation, although he could could not rule out a ligature had been used.

Dr Sadler said: “I would expect consciousness to be lost after 10 to 20 seconds. A fatal injury would take nearer to a minute.”

The trial before Judge John Morris QC continues.