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Man guilty of killing stranger by pushing her off Helensburgh Pier



Man guilty of killing stranger by pushing her off Helensburgh Pier

A 29-year-old man has been found guilty of killing a stranger by picking her up and then pushing her off a pier.

Jacob Foster attacked Charmaine O’Donnell at Helensburgh Pier, in Argyll and Bute, in April 2021.

Jurors at the the High Court in Glasgow heard Ms O’Donnell, 25, suffered severe neck injuries and drowned after she was pushed into the water.

Her family said her death had “changed our lives forever”, but that justice had now been served.

Foster, who had denied murder, was convicted of culpable homicide after a trial.

His lawyers had lodged a special defence of diminished responsibility, saying he had an “abnormality of mind” at the time. Foster, from Helensburgh, suffers from a learning disability.

Jacob Foster
Jacob Foster told a police officer at the scene that it was “just a bit of fun”

The trial heard that Ms O’Donnell had gone to Helensburgh with a friend, Caitlin McTaggart, on 23 April last year to enjoy the good weather.

The pair began chatting to three men fishing and Ms McTaggart, 25, said it appeared Foster was trying to get involved in the conversation.

She told the court that neither she nor Ms O’Donnell knew him.

The jurors heard there had then been a “commotion” when Ms O’Donnell was pushed over the railings at the pier and someone shouted to Ms McTaggart: “That’s your pal.”

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked Ms McTaggart: “Did you say anything to Jacob?”

She replied: “I was screaming at him to help her. He just kept saying: ‘What have I done? I have taken it too far this time. I am going away for a long time’.”

What is culpable homicide?

Culpable homicide is the term used in Scots law for an offence where someone caused the death of another person by acting unlawfully but with no intention to kill.

It is different to murder where there is criminal intention, and from causing death by an accident where no-one can be blamed.

They could, for example, have assaulted someone in an attempt to injure them, but not to kill them.

There must also not have been “wicked recklessness” – which is usually based on the actions of the accused and the severity of the injuries suffered by the victim.

Deaths can also be treated as culpable homicide rather than murder if the accused was found to be of “diminished responsibility” because of some mental illness, or where there was provocation.

Anyone convicted of murder in Scotland automatically faces a life sentence, but there is no such rule for culpable homicide and people convicted of it are not always jailed.

The equivalent offence in England and Wales is manslaughter.

Stephen Cairns, who was one of the men fishing that day, told the court he remembered speaking to the women and Foster also being there.

The 42-year-old told jurors Ms O’Donnell had been standing at the railings on the edge of the pier at one stage.

He added: “I turned around and saw the accused pushing the girl over the railing.

“He pushed her with both hands.”

Ms McTaggart called 999 to get help and emergency services were sent to the scene.

PC Gary Davidson told the court that Foster had been “quite agitated and talking a lot” when he arrived at the pier.

The officer said Foster had told him: “I just pushed her, it was just a bit of fun.”

The trial also heard from several teenagers who tried to help Ms O’Donnell after she was pushed into the water.

One of them said he had noticed the woman’s shoe floating in the water and “a bit of blood”.

Foster’s lawyers had claimed that because of his mental health issues he had misunderstood an alleged remark Ms O’Donnell made about going into the water.

Sean Templeton, defending, had asked for Foster to be completely acquitted, saying: “It was a young man with learning difficulties who got it wrong.”

After the verdict, it emerged Foster had a number of previous convictions, including assaulting a staff member at a Costa coffee shop in Helensburgh in 2018.

Mr Prentice told the court Ms O’Donnell had been on furlough from her job as an assistant manager at a British Heart Foundation shop. She was due to return a week after she died.

Lord Fairley said in the “very unusual circumstances” of the case he would continue bail and adjourned for reports.

Helensburgh Pier
Ms O’Donnell was pushed over the railings on the pier

The advocate depute said: “It is clear she was much loved and her death has brought untold and continuing grief.

“She was described as a loving and selfless person.”

Ms O’Donnell’s mother, Jacqueline Gallacher, 50, and stepfather William King, 54, said they believed the jury had reached the right verdict.

“The past 15 months have been the most difficult time we have ever had to face,” they said.

“Losing Charmaine has changed our lives forever. We will never be the same again. Our hearts have been broken.

“She had her whole life ahead of her. She had a great personality and sense of humour, warming the hearts of all who met her.”

‘Treasured colleague’

Mike Taylor, commercial director at the British Heart Foundation, said fellow workers at the charity were “devastated about the tragic death of our treasured colleague Charmaine O’Donnell”.

He added: “Charmaine made an incredible contribution to the BHF over many years, rising from apprentice to assistant manager of our Glasgow Union Street shop, and was an integral member of our team.

“We’re continuing to support all our colleagues and volunteers through this extremely difficult time, and our thoughts are with Charmaine’s friends and family.” (BBC)

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President Joe Biden tumbles, falls during graduation ceremony



President Joe Biden took a face-first tumble on Thursday after tripping over an obstacle on stage at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, but he appeared unhurt.

Biden, 80, who had delivered the commencement address to graduates of the military academy, had just shaken hands with a cadet and begun walking back to his seat when he fell.

Air Force personnel helped him back up and he did not appear to require further help.

As he rose, Biden pointed to the object that had apparently caught his foot. It resembled a small black sandbag on the stage.

White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt tweeted shortly afterward that “he’s fine. There was a sandbag on stage while he was shaking hands.”

Biden is the oldest person ever in the presidency and is seeking a second term in the 2024 election. His official doctor’s report this year declared him physically fit and he exercises regularly.

In November 2020, shortly after winning his election against the incumbent Donald Trump, Biden broke his foot while playing with a pet dog.


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Good sex secret to my long life — 102-year-old woman



•102-Years Old Joyce Jackman
A 102-year-old British woman, identified as Joyce Jackman, has attributed her longevity to good sex.

Jackman, who celebrated her 102nd birthday on May 9, stated that “good sex and good sherry” leads to long-term satisfaction, NY Post reports.

According to her, a combination of both has helped her live for over a century.

Speaking about her birthday celebration, the centenarian said, “I had such a lovely day.

“I can’t believe I’m 102. It must be all the chocolate I eat that’s helped!”

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Arrested Asiana Airlines passenger gives reason for opening plane door midair



The Asiana Airlines plane landed at Daegu with its door open

A man who opened an emergency exit on an Asiana Airlines flight in mid-air felt “suffocated” and wanted to get off quickly, South Korean police said on Saturday.

The plane was carrying nearly 200 passengers as it approached the runway on Friday at Daegu International Airport, about 240 kilometres (149 miles) southeast of Seoul, on a domestic flight.

When the plane was around 200 meters (650 feet) above ground, the man who police said was in his 30s without providing further details, opened the exit door.

The passenger was taken in by Daegu police for questioning and told officers he had been “under stress after losing a job recently”.

“He felt the flight was taking longer than it should have been and felt suffocated inside the cabin,” a Daegu police detective told AFP.

“He wanted out quickly”.

The passenger faces up to 10 years in prison for violating aviation safety laws.

A video clip shot by a nearby passenger showed wind ripping through the open door, with fabric seat-backs and passengers’ hair flapping wildly as some people shouted in surprise.

Another video shared on social media showed passengers sitting in the emergency exit row next to an open door being buffeted by strong winds.

A dozen passengers were taken to hospital after experiencing breathing difficulties but there were no major injuries or damage, according to the transport ministry.

“It was chaos with people close to the door appearing to faint one by one and flight attendants calling out for doctors on board,” a 44-year-old passenger told Yonhap.

“I thought the plane was blowing up. I thought I was going to die like this.”

A transport ministry official told AFP that this was “the first such incident” they were aware of in Korean aviation history.

Experts say South Korea’s aviation industry has a solid safety record

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