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Woman accused of 1996 murder of 14-year-old Caroline Glachan was ‘angry’ that teen was ‘seeing her partner’ | UK News

A woman on trial for allegedly murdering a schoolgirl in 1996 had threatened to “batter” her for spending time with a youth she was also seeing, a court has heard.

Tracy McFetridge, 44, told police she heard Donna Marie Brand – one of three people charged with Caroline Glachan’s murder – utter the threat in a conversation with another friend weeks before the 14-year-old was found dead.

The High Court in Glasgow heard Ms McFetridge made the accusation in a statement she gave to police during a reinvestigation in 2020 – 24 years after Caroline was found dead in the River Leven.

Brand, 44, along with Robert O’Brien, 45, and Andrew Kelly, 44, are on trial accused of murdering the schoolgirl on 25 August 1996.

Prosecutors allege they arranged to meet the teenager at a bridge near a towpath beside the river between Renton and Bonhill, West Dunbartonshire.

They are then alleged to have assaulted her, shouted and swore at her and repeatedly kicked and punched her on the head and body.

It is claimed the trio threw bricks or “similar instruments” causing blunt force injuries to her head and body before pushing or causing her to fall into the river, and ultimately murdering her.

O’Brien, Brand and Kelly have all pleaded not guilty and lodged a special defence of alibi.

Caroline suffered blunt force injuries to her head and body

Ms McFetridge told the court Caroline had been spending time with O’Brien, but at the same he had also been seeing Brand who was not happy with the situation.

Asked by Advocate Depute Alex Prentice if there had been a conversation involving Caroline and a suspected pregnancy, Ms McFetridge replied: “Yes. She said she had missed her period and she might be pregnant.”

She went on to tell the court that the schoolgirl was aware O’Brien was seeing Brand and that she had advised her not to say anything about the potential pregnancy around Brand.

“Donna said she was not happy and said she was going to batter her. I told her ‘[No], you [can’t] do that, she is only 14’,” she said.

Questioned by O’Brien’s lawyer, Ian Duguid KC, Ms McFetridge said she initially did not believe Caroline when she said she might be pregnant, adding: “She told wee white lies.”

She then told the court she accompanied the schoolgirl as she took a pregnancy test, which returned positive.

However, forensic pathologist Dr Marjorie Turner said there was no sign the teenager was pregnant at the post-mortem examination.

Read more from the trial:
Three on trial over 1996 murder of schoolgirl
Teen ‘suffered at least 10 blows to head before drowning in river’

Giving evidence, Ms McFetridge added: “[Brand] was angry, as you would be if someone was seeing your partner at that age.”

Ms McFetridge also told the court Caroline had visited her at her father’s house on the night before her death, but this was something she only felt confident revealing during the reinvestigation into her death in 2020.

Asked by Brand’s solicitor, Thomas Ross KC, why she had made “absolutely no mention” of the visit in three separate statements she made to police in the three months after the schoolgirl’s death, she said she was “scared” of repercussions.

O’Brien faces a separate charge alleging that on various dates between 1 June 1996 and 25 August 1996, he assaulted the teenager at locations including Balloch Country Park, Renton, Vale of Leven and “elsewhere in Dunbartonshire”.

It is alleged O’Brien assaulted the teenager by punching her face, placing his hands around her neck and compressing her throat. He denies the charge.

The trial, before judge Lord Braid, continues.

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