Firefighters 'unable to tell if victim was man or woman' 

Murder trial hears evidence from members of crew who found body of Cathy Kelly.

Trial: The house on Kilmaurs Road (file pic). SWNS

A woman allegedly murdered in a house fire was so badly burned firefighters could not tell if she was a man or a woman, a court heard.

Fire service watch manager Gordon Cairns was giving evidence at the trial of 41-year-old William Kelly.

He denies murdering his mother Cathy by pouring petrol over her and setting her on fire at their Kilmarnock home on February 11.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday, Mr Cairns told prosecutor Ashley Edwards QC he performed CPR on Mrs Kelly after she was recovered from the house by fellow firefighters wearing breathing apparatus.

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Ms Edwards asked him: "Could you tell if it was a man or a woman?"

Mr Cairns replied: "No, her hair was missing and the clothes were kind of burnt, fragile. When I went to touch the clothes they just disintegrated."

Earlier, firefighter William Milroy told the jury how he and colleague Ross Campbell retrieved Ms Kelly.

He said they were in the second fire appliance and the fire was out by the time they arrived at the scene on Kilmaurs Road but the house was filled with smoke.

After working his way through the property he found, Ms Kelly who was lying face-down on the floor in the living room.

He said: "I reached out and gave her a little shake and said 'I'm a firefighter' and got no reaction."

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Ms Edwards asked the firefighter if he noticed anything about Ms Kelly.

He replied: "I could see the back of her head was badly singed and her back was badly burned and her clothing was a bit melted. She was badly burned, mostly her legs and back."

The jury was told the firefighters rolled Ms Kelly on to her back.

Mr Milroy said: "I noticed her face was swollen. Her eyes were bulging and her tongue was swollen."

He added: "I hadn't seen anything like that before. Usually we see smoke round the mouth and nose."

The trial, before judge Lady Stacey, continues.

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