Peebles murder accused assessed as risk to others two days before killing, trial told

Murder accused Nicholas Rogers.
Murder accused Nicholas Rogers.

A murder accused was assessed by a mental health nurse as being a risk to others days before he killed a postwoman, a court heard today.

Psychiatric nurse Ross Whitehead spoke to Nicholas Rogers – on trial for the murder of Peebles postwoman Alex Stuart – last August after being told he had been complaining about having suicidal thoughts.

Alex Stuart

Alex Stuart

A few days before that, Rogers’ then girlfriend had contacted NHS Borders’ mental health team saying he was the “worst he has been” and asking if there was a spare bed at the Huntlyburn ward at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose.

Mr Whitehead told a court that when he spoke to Rogers on August 4, he was “more amenable” and his responses were “more appropriate”.

He confirmed that he identified two risk factors, suicidal thinking and one classed as a risk to others but he told the High Court in Glasgow he wasn’t able to say what he meant by his notes.

The 27 year-old went on to stab to death Alex in Cuddyside in Peebles last August 6.

Cuddyside in Peebles.

Cuddyside in Peebles.

The former customer services worker admits killing the 22 year-old but claims he was suffering from an abnormality of the mind at the time.

In evidence, Mr Whitehead said he met Rogers for the first time on July 24, last year.

He confirmed he knew Rogers had taken a “mixed overdose” of 100 different tablets earlier that month.

The court heard that when they met, Mr Whitehead identified him as a potential risk to others at that stage.

Defence QC Brian McConnachie asked: “On July 24, albeit it doesn’t amount to much, you have identified there’s a potential risk which comes from what you have been told by him are anger issues?

“He’s given examples of previously punching people in the past when feeling angry.”

The witness agreed with both those points.

The court heard that Rogers’ ex-girlfriend Katrina Kelly, 19, spoke to Mr Whitehead on August 2 with concerns about him.

Mr McConnachie asked: “What Mr Rogers seems to tell you is that he’s unsure what has happened the past two days and feels he has no control over this?”

The witness replied: “That’s what he said, yes.”

Mr Whitehead confirmed that after speaking to Rogers he noted two risk factors, of suicidal thinking and “assess at the time, can be intimidating when under the influence of alcohol”, under the heading of ‘risk to others’.

Asked what that meant, he said he didn’t know.

The trial, before judge Lord Alan Summers, continues.