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Jury urged to convict ex-lovers of 'brutal' murder of woman

Steven Jackson and Michelle Higgins are accused of killing and dismembering Kimberley MacKenzie.

Kimberley MacKenzie: Body parts were found in bins.
Kimberley MacKenzie: Body parts were found in bins.

A jury has been urged to convict two former lovers of the "sustained and brutal" murder of mother-of-three Kimberley MacKenzie.

Ashley Edwards QC told them Steven Jackson, 40, and Michelle Higgins, 29, murdered 37-year-old Ms MacKenzie at 40A Market Street, Montrose, Angus, on October 27, last year.

She said told the five women and nine of the jury at the High Court in Glasgow that the pair then cut up her body with a saw and dumped body parts in bins and at a house in the town.

Ms Edwards told jurors the circumstances of the crime were so horrendous and depraved they were better suited to the pages of a crime fiction novel.

The QC was giving her closing speech at the trial of Jackson and Higgins on Tuesday. 

Both deny murdering Kimberley and then trying to cover up the crime by cutting up her body and disposing of it.

The prosecutor said: "It does not seem to be disputed that both accused took part in dismembering and disposing of the body. 

"Who but the murderers would dismember a body, who but the murderers would carry out an act of such depravity?

"Each accused says the other did it. They are both right - they both did it."

Ms Edwards told the 14 jurors this was a circumstantial case but added: "There is a red flashing light signalling the guilt of the accused. All the evidence comes together to show a clear, straightforward picture.

"It is a picture of Michelle Higgins and Steven Jackson. Both participated in a sustained attack on Kimberley MacKenzie - a joint and murderous attack which resulted in the death of Kimberley MacKenzie.

"An attack involving more than 40 stab wounds, multiple bruising and at least 11 separate blows to the head. And together they set about trying to cover it up by systematically butchering the body of Kimberley MacKenzie. 

She added: "They are callous and self-centred. This is a picture of depravity of such horrendous proportions you might have thought could only happen in the pages of crime fiction, not it a small market town."

Ms Edwards told the jury the Crown view is Jackson and Higgins used two knives, a hammer and a large paint scraper to murder Kimberley.

She said: "The evidence shows a murderous attack with multiple weapons. This was a sustained and brutal attack perpetrated by both accused.

"They then left her in her dying moments while they went out to buy heroin.

"You should be satisfied of the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable double and should convict them."

Defence QC Donald Findlay, representing Jackson, said: "Steven Jackson has not challenged that he played a part in the dismembering and decapitation of Kimberley MacKenzie, and the dumping of her body parts in various places.

"Does that mean he is a murderer? The answer to that is no, no, no and no again.

"Even if it is proved that Steven Jackson dismembered the dead body of Kimberley MacKenzie that does not make him guilty of murder, however horrific, however distasteful and no matter what you think of him." 

He added: "People do things we can't understand. In death her body was decapitated and dismembered but that had no part in her murder because it was in death.

"Overwhelmingly, the evidence proves that she died because of blows to the head, nothing else.

"Has the Crown proved it was Steven Jackson wielding the object or objects when she was murdered? The fact the Crown says so does not make it so."

Defence QC Mark Stewart, representing Higgins, told the jurors: "Michelle Higgins had no problem with Kimberley MacKenzie."

He said: "The question is, who did attack Kimberley MacKenzie? It was Steven Jackson. He admitted it not just once. He admitted it to Barbara Whyte - his ex-wife - and to the police.

"Mr Findlay said there is no motive - perhaps there is no motive, perhaps he's just bad.

"If Steven Jackson had not committed murder why would he say he had?"

Mr Stewart added: "He is instrumental in cutting up the body into parts and sent Michelle Higgins to get a saw. 

"He cut the body up into 12 parts. This was a not inconsiderable job of dismemberment.

"Why would he do all this other than to save his own skin?"

He told the jury Higgins was scared of Jackson and did what he told her.

Mr Stewart said she had given evidence and admitted helping Jackson with the disposal of the body parts but denied having anything to do with the murder or dismemberment.

Jackson and Higgins are accused of murdering Ms MacKenzie by repeatedly striking her on the head, neck and body with a hammer or similar instrument and striking her with a knife at 40a Market Street, Montrose, on October 27, last year.

They are also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dismembering her body using a saw, knives and a screwdriver and wrapping parts of her body in bin liners and bags and hiding them in bins at 40 Market Street, Patons Lane, Chapel Street and 73 William Phillips Drive, all Montrose, between October 27 and November 4, 2015.

Both deny the charges against them.

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