Man accused of murdering Edinburgh mum killed his dog the same way, say prosecutors

The man accused of killing an Edinburgh mother-of-two was convicted seven years ago of killing his dog, a court has heard.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 6:20 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th October 2020, 7:08 pm
Nicola Stevenson and her alleged killer, Richard Canlin
Nicola Stevenson and her alleged killer, Richard Canlin

Richard Canlin, 42, is on trial at Hove Crown Court accused of bludgeoning Nicola Stevenson, 39, to death with a claw hammer and dumping her body in a wheelie bin in undergrowth in Lewes, Sussex last year.

Following a successful bad character application by prosecution, the court heard that Mr Canlin was convicted of killing his Staffordshire bull terrier, Daisy, in 2013.

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On June 12, 2012, the dog’s body was found by Mr Canlin’s support worker, in a holdall, in the cellar of a property in which he was living, the court was told.

When interviewed by RSPCA officers, he claimed Daisy had been run over by a truck.

The dog’s injuries were examined by a veterinary pathologist, who found there were multiple bruises around Daisy’s face and head, with a large bruise to the temporal region, the court heard.

The court was also told that Daisy had multiple fractures, which, in the view of the pathologist were sustained on three separate occasions as a result of significant trauma.

The conclusion of the veterinary pathologist was that possible causes of these injuries include kicking or hitting with a blunt instrument, the court heard.

The injuries detected were not consistent with a fatal road traffic accident.

Mr Canlin pleaded guilty to causing the injuries to Daisy, the court was told.

The court also heard that Mr Canlin admitted causing unnecessary suffering to another Staffordshire bull terrier called Leyla by inflicting trauma to the animal’s head. He also had convictions for criminal damage and abusive behaviour.

The rarely-used bad character application was sought to reveal details of the defendant’s past. He denies murdering cancer survivor Nicola, a former Balerno High School pupil who was registered disabled and used a wheelchair and mobility scooter. She was found with numerous skull and face fractures and a fracture to her neck. A post-mortem discovered she died as a result of a blunt force trauma to her head.

Dr Charlotte Randall, a consultant forensic pathologist also said there was evidence her neck could have been forcefully grabbed, resulting in unconsciousness.

Nicola’s injuries demonstrated a severe degree of force, Mr Randall told the court. Toxicology tests revealed that alcohol, cocaine and cannabis were in her system at the time of her death, she added.

Mr Canlin denies murdering Nicola, whose body was discovered on recreation ground last November. It is believed she was last seen alive a month earlier.

Earlier, the jury heard Nicola left her flat , after an argument with Mr Canlin on October 10, 2019.

He said she left to “Cool down” and later told murder squad detectives: “She was alive when she left the flat.”

Canlin told police Nicola was his sister and they were close but lost touch after their parents died.

Sussex Police has not been able to establish any family connection between Mr Canlin and Nicola, whose parents have been in court’s public gallery throughout the proceedings.

.The trial continues

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