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Pensioner charged with culpable homicide after death of Highland garage owner

By Gregor White

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John Birrell.
John Birrell.

A retired consultant ophthalmologist appeared in private at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday accused of killing his neighbour.

Dr Hamish Towler (65), from Inverness, made no plea to a charge of the culpable homicide of 55-year-old John Birrell on Monday evening on Leachkin Hill Road.

Both men were resident in the Blackpark area of Inverness.

Dr Towler is accused of obstructing the car Mr Birrell was travelling in, refusing to allow it to pass, striking it with a dog lead, seizing Mr Birrell by the body, pulling him from the car, seizing him by the neck and compressing his neck, punching him on the body, striking him on the head with a dog lead, pushing him on the body and causing him to fall in a ditch and killing him.

Mr Birrell ran an MOT and service centre and the adjoining North Coast Customs in Carsegate Road.

The industrial estate is a mile or so from his home.

Dr Towler was an eminent eye specialist, originally from Aberdeenshire, who worked in London before retiring to Inverness.

He bought farmland in the hills above Inverness overlooking the Beauly Firth and built a house on it.

Dr Towler was committed for further examination and released on bail by Sheriff Gary Aitken.

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