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Daily Record
Daily Record
Grant McCabe

Man accused of murdering stranger by throwing her off Scots pier said he was 'going away for a long time'

A man accused of murdering a stranger by throwing her from a pier into water claimed he was "going away for a long time". Jacob Foster, 29, allegedly killed Charmaine O'Donnell on April 23, 2021.

The crime is alleged to have happened at Helensburgh Pier in the town's West Clyde Street in Argyll and Bute. Jurors yesterday heard 25 year-old Charmaine died due to severe neck injuries and drowning.

Foster went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday. He denies murder and his lawyers have lodged a special defence of diminished responsibility due to an "abnormality of mind" at the time.

Charmaine's friend Caitlin McTaggart, 25, gave evidence. The pair - who had known each other since teenagers - had travelled to Helensburgh due to the good weather that day.

Caitlin told the court: "I had wanted to go the Campsies where there is a waterfall. She said 'no' because she would have ended up in the water basically."

The women arrived at Helensburgh Pier and eventually got chatting to three men fishing. Foster and another man were also nearby. Caitlin told jurors neither she or Charmaine knew him, although it appeared he was trying to get involved in their conversation. The witness told the court she later heard a "commotion".

She said "somebody" got "thrown" over the railings or barrier at the pier. Caitlin told the court she did not initially know who it was, but a person shouted: "That's your pal." She then peered over the edge and spotted Charmaine.

Charmaine O'Donnell (Facebook)

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked her: "Where was she?" Caitlin said: "In the water."

The witness claimed Foster was still near standing at the pier when she looked about.

Mr Prentice: "Did you say anything to Jacob?"

Caitlin told the court: "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'."

Caitlin dialled 999 to get her friend help, but Charmaine did not survive.

Stephen Cairns was one of the men fishing that day. He remembered speaking to the young women and Foster also being there. The 42 year-old told jurors Charmaine had been standing at railings at one stage.

He told the court: "I turned around and saw the accused pushing the girl over the railing. He pushed her with both hands."

The witness said Charmaine had been facing the water at the time. He told the court that he recalled seeing Charmaine in the water with blood coming from her head.

The murder charge claims Foster picked up the 25 year-old, carried her to a barrier before pushing or throwing the woman. It is said this caused Charmaine to strike the "pier structure" or another rough surface and the water below.

The indictment alleges this lead Charmaine to "ingest" water and that she was left so severely injured, she died. The trial, before judge Lord Fairley, continues.

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