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Four-year-old boy may have witnessed 1996 murder of 14-year-old girl, court hears

14-year-old Caroline Glachan's body was discovered in the river Leven, near Place of Bonhill in Renton, West Dunbartonshire, on August 25 1996
14-year-old Caroline Glachan's body was discovered in the river Leven, near Place of Bonhill in Renton, West Dunbartonshire, on August 25 1996 - POLICE SCOTLAND/PA

A four-year-old boy told his mother he saw a girl falling into a river on the day a teenager’s body was found, a murder trial has heard.

Betty Wilson recalled that her son, Archie, told her that he had witnessed “a fight with a wee lassie” on Aug 25 1996.

That day, the body of Caroline Glachan, 14, was discovered in the River Leven in Renton, West Dunbartonshire.

Suspects Robert O’Brien, Andrew Kelly and Donna Marie Brand, deny murder.

Ms Wilson told the High Court in Glasgow that Mr Kelly, now 44, and his girlfriend, Sarah Jayne O’Neill, were babysitting her two children on the evening of August 24 1996.

She said she had gone to her sister’s house and that Mr Kelly and his girlfriend stayed with the children overnight.

Mother of the victim, Margaret McKeich, arrives at the High Court in Glasgow where Robbie O'Brien, Donna Marie Brand and Andrew Kelly are accused of the murder of Caroline Glachan on August 25 1996
Mother of the victim, Margaret McKeich, arrives at the High Court in Glasgow where Robbie O'Brien, Donna Marie Brand and Andrew Kelly are accused of the murder of Caroline Glachan on August 25 1996 - ANDREW MILLIGAN/PA

Ms Wilson said when she returned the next morning, a patch of the floor in her living room was really damp.

Mr Kelly told her that her son Archie, who was four at the time, had urinated on him and the floor.

She said there was no lingering smell and when asked if he had urinated on the floor, Archie replied: “No. It was because somebody was sitting on the floor.”

She said Archie told her that co-accused Mr O’Brien – who was known as Robbie – had been in the house.

Ms Wilson said the child told her Mr Kelly or Mr O’Brien was wet, but she added that she was sure he said it was Mr O’Brien.

‘Fight with a wee lassie’

The mother said Archie told her he was taken to the river by Mr O’Brien, 45, co-accused Ms Brand, 44, and Mr Kelly’s girlfriend, Ms O’Neill.

She said Archie told her: “There was a fight with a wee lassie and she ended up falling in the Leven and they battered the wee lassie.”

She also said her son told her the girl was wearing a Chipie jumper, the same as she had.

The court has already heard that Caroline had been wearing a dark blue Chipie jumper when her body was found.

Ms Wilson said Archie told her the girl was “hit on the back of the head with something. She was fighting with Donna”.

Caroline’s body was discovered on the riverbank in Renton with extensive injuries to her scalp, face and neck sustained from blunt force trauma.

Mr O’Brien is charged with assaulting Caroline in various places in West Dunbartonshire, while he and Ms Brand are both accused of previously evincing malice and ill will towards the schoolgirl.

The charge sheet says they and Mr Kelly also shouted and swore at her, punched and kicked her on the head and body, threw bricks or similar instruments at her and caused blunt force injuries to her head and body with unknown instruments.

It alleges the three, acting with another person, caused Caroline to fall into the undergrowth rendering her unconscious before pushing her into the river and murdering her.

The trio claim they were elsewhere at the time of Caroline’s death.

The trial, before Lord Braid, continues.