Mobile phones belonging to Steven Donaldson, his alleged killer Steven Dickie and the partner of co-accused Callum Davidson were tracked moving around the outskirts of Kirriemuir in the hours before the 27-year-old’s body was discovered, a court heard yesterday.
An expert told the jury in the murder trial that the phone of the third co-accused, Tasmin Glass, was also operating in the same mast area as that of Mr Donaldson on the night of June 6 last year.
Cell site engineer Greg Robinson told the High Court in Edinburgh the devices could have been in the vicinity of Kirriemuir’s Peter Pan playpark.
Prosecutors allege that Glass, Dickie and Davidson arranged to meet Mr Donaldson at the park then assaulted him, before taking the Arbroath offshore worker to Loch of Kinnordy nature reserve, hitting him with other instruments and setting fire to him and his car.
On the 13th day of the trio’s trial, jurors heard Mr Donaldson’s mobile may have suffered an “abnormal” power-down between midnight and 3am on June 7, just hours before RSPB reserve staff found his charred and beaten corpse beside his BMW.
Mr Robinson said he had been asked to analyse phones linked to the inquiry as well as “locations of interest” in the investigation, including the homes of all three accused, the Kirrie play area and the nature reserve.
He told Crown prosecutor, advocate depute Ashley Edwards, that cell site analysis could not pinpoint the exact location of a mobile phone or who was operating it, but it was possible to determine the approximate area from mast data.
He said Dickie’s device was operating in the Kirriemuir area around 11pm on June 6, before showing movement to the north and then around the fringes of the town, consistent with cell sites serving Kinnordy Loch.
Mr Donaldson’s phone also showed movement north from Kirriemuir, he added.
In the minutes leading up to midnight there was a possibility it was at Kinnordy Loch due to cells it was connecting with, the trial heard.
The witness said the last activity associated with Mr Donaldson’s phone was at 3.01am in a cell area consistent with it being at Kinnordy Loch.
He was also quizzed by the advocate depute about analysis of a mobile belonging to Davidson’s girlfriend, Claire Ogston, between 1am and 2am on June 7.
Asked if the data was supportive of someone cycling to Kinnordy Loch, Mr Robinson replied: “The mobile phone has the potential to be in and around the area surrounding Kirriemuir at this time. That would be a possibility.”
In cross examination, Ian Duguid QC, for Dickie put it to the witness: “It looks as if Claire Ogston’s mobile phone is on the move at 1.36, is that right?”
“Yes,” replied the witness.
Under questioning by Mark Stewart QC, counsel for Glass, the witness agreed that while cell site data could provide information about mobile phones co-locating in the same area, it could not say whether they were together at the time.
At the close of proceedings ahead of the Easter weekend break, it was indicated to the jury that the Crown case is scheduled to conclude early next week.
There is a likelihood that defence evidence in the following days will take the trial into a fifth week.
The trial continues on Tuesday.