Death row Scot cleared of attack

Former death row Scot Kenny Richey has been cleared of a masked attack on a 64-year-old man over a 200 debt.

Richey, of Gorgie, had appeared at the High Court in Paisley charged with assaulting and robbing Robert McCall in Edinburgh last July.

Prosecutors dropped three charges on the second day of the trial due to a lack of corroboration.

However, Richey admitted causing a breach of the peace by shouting and swearing at prosecutors.

Richey, who has been in custody since last summer, was returned to jail pending sentence.

He caused the breach of the peace at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last August.

He pled guilty to the charge after prosecutor Derek Ogg QC withdrew the charges of assault to danger of life, assault and robbery and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Mr Ogg said: "It is the cornerstone of the Scottish justice system that no person can be convicted on evidence from a single source, no matter how credible or reliable that evidence is.

"It would not be proper for the Crown to insist on prosecuting Mr Richey, although the Crown has no evidence that Mr McCall's evidence was anything other than credible and reliable."

On Wednesday, Mr McCall said an Edinburgh bar manager had given him 200 to buy cheap cigarettes on a trip to Spain.

However, he said he had instead spent the cash in the bookies - then missed his flight because he had a hangover.

Mr McCall said he had not returned to the Dickens Pub in Dalry Road. However, some weeks later he met manager Callum Anderson - who claimed he had a contract out on him.

Mr McCall said Richey and another man had turned up at his home in Watson Crescent, Edinburgh, in July last year and Richey had beaten him with a baton.

The trial's second witness Brian Mataszcztk, a friend of Richey, told the court that the 44-year-old had confessed that he had attacked a man - but later said it was a joke.

Mr Ogg said he decided to withdraw the three charges because the evidence given by Mr Mataszcztk did not corroborate that of Mr McCall.

"In this case corroboration could only ever have come from Mr Mataszcztk," he said.

"Mr Mataszcztk's evidence as it was given in its entirety could not have amounted to corroboration of Mr McCall's evidence.

"It could not be enough to suggest to the jury that Mr Mataszcztk was a credible and reliable witness whose evidence could be regarded as trustworthy."

Judge Lord McEwan said: "In accordance with the highest traditions of the Crown Office the prosecutor has withdrawn the charges and is to be commended for doing so."

The court heard that Richey's criminal record featured four minor offences, including one for assault, dating back to 1981 and 1982.

He will appear in court again on Friday to be sentenced on the breach of the peace charge.

Richey was released in January last year after spending more than 20 years behind bars in the US, 18 of them on death row.

The former US marine was sentenced to death in January 1987 after his conviction for killing a two-year-old child in Ohio in 1986.

He was eventually freed after agreeing a plea bargain. He pled no contest to attempted involuntary manslaughter and child endangering and was freed because he had already served 20 years.