Fiancée's tears after helping to jail killer boyfriend for 12 years

Fiancée’s tears as her killer boyfriend is jailed for 12 years after she used a secret code to lead police to hidden grave of charity cyclist he mowed down and then buried

  • Alexander ‘Sandy’ McKellar, 33, mowed down and killed cyclist Tony Parsons, 63
  • McKellar’s fiancée Caroline Muirhead gave police a clue to find Mr Parsons’ body

A woman who bravely gathered evidence to help police snare her killer boyfriend shed tears outside court as he was jailed for 12 years.

Alexander ‘Sandy’ McKellar, 33, and his twin brother Robert were driving along the A82 in Argyll, Scotland, after an evening in the pub when he knocked down and killed cyclist Tony Parsons, 63.

The pair tried to cover up the crime in September 2017 by burying the former Navy petty officer on the nearby 9,000-acre Auch estate, inside a peat bog where animal carcasses were dumped.

Three years later, McKellar confessed to his terrified fiancée Caroline Muirhead what he had done.

Ms Muirhead, 32, was later taken to the burial site, which she marked out by dropping an empty can of Red Bull – allowing police to pinpoint the body’s location.

Today at the High Court in Glasgow, McKellar was jailed for 12 years while his brother was sentenced to five years and three months.

Caroline Muirhead, the former partner of Alexander McKellar, leaves the High Court, Glasgow, following the sentence hearing of the McKellar brothers

Ms Muirhead appeared visibly moved as she left the court after seeing her former fiancé jailed for 12 years

McKellar, 33, and his twin Robert tried to cover up the crime in September 2017 by burying the former Navy petty officer 

Cyclist Tony Parsons was struck by a pick-up truck being driven by a drunk Sandy McKellar with Robert in the passenger seat

Tony Parsons’ body was discovered thanks to a can of Red Bull left at his burial site by Ms Muirhead

Caroline Muirhead asked her boyfriend to take her to the site where he buried Tony Parsons’ body. She filmed part of the car journey and later left the Red Bull can she had been drinking as a marker

Caroline Muirhead, 32, gathered evidence that helped to convict Alexander ‘Sandy’ McKellar after he knocked down and killed cyclist Tony Parsons

READ MORE: The unmarked grave of a charity cyclist who was hit by a drink-driver and buried in the Scottish wilderness with the help of his twin brother – but was caught after confessing to his fiancée who told police where to find it

Ms Muirhead, a pathologist, revealed to Sky News her fear of a revenge attack once Mckellar is freed and said that she has been offered 24-hour security cameras at her parents’ Glasgow home.

Ms Muirhead said there was a ‘100%’ risk that Sandy could harm her after his release from prison, adding: ‘You’re telling me that man is not going to come knock on my door when he gets out?’

Father-of-two Mr Parsons had won a battle with prostate cancer, and was over halfway through a 100-mile charity ride from his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, to Fort William, at the time of his death.

He travelled north by train on the morning of September 29, 2017.

But after 11pm, when he was last seen having a drink in the Bridge of Orchy hotel, he was struck by a pick-up truck being driven by a drunk Sandy McKellar with Robert in the passenger seat.

The brothers had been drinking in the same bar as Mr Parsons before they crashed into him on the A82 on their way back home through the 9,000-acre Auch Estate in Argyll.

They decided to bury his body in a peat bog and lived with their secret for just over three years. Sandy McKellar admitted his crimes to Ms Muirhead in November 2020 as they discussed getting married.

She told the Sunday Mail: ‘I was in shock, frozen almost. I didn’t know what to believe. This man I thought I could be with for the rest of my life had just told me he was a killer. I didn’t know what to do.’

After his confession, Ms Muirhead spent a month gathering information. She asked McKellar to take her to the burial site, where she recorded part of the car journey while drinking a can of Red Bull – which she left at the scene as a marker.

Ms Muirhead, a forensic pathologist from Glasgow, told how McKellar first appeared gentle and kind towards her, but his personality could change when he drank heavily.

She recalled asking him in late November 2020 if he was OK after he visibly tensed when a police car drove past them one evening.

She said: ‘I asked him, “What is it? What is going on? What is it you’re not telling me?” 

‘I said if we were going to be together and be a team, he needed to tell me what was wrong and I’d support him.

Police search a Highland farm at Auch Estate in connection with the disappearance of Tony Parsons on January 8, 2021 in Bridge of Orchy, Scotland

Ms Muirhead asked McKellar to take her to the burial site, where she recorded part of the car journey while drinking a can of Red Bull – which she left at the scene as a marker

Ms Muirhead became emotional as she described thinking of Mr Parsons’ family, who for three years had no idea what had happened to him

‘He started having a panic attack. He was gasping and started wailing. Then he told me what he’d done… something that he’d got away with for years.’

He then took her to the site of the grave on the estate where he lived. Ms Muirhead said: ‘He pointed out where the body was and told me what had happened and how they (the brothers) had hit him, that it was an accident.

‘He said they hadn’t trusted the police, they’d had issues with them before and thought they were out to get them, so that’s why they didn’t go to the police.’

Ms Muirhead is now pressing for greater protection for witnesses in High Court trials and is exploring legal actin against criminal justice authorities in Scotland.

She alleges that after giving Police Scotland the clue they needed to find Mr Parsons’ body, detectives pressured her into ‘spying’ on the twins for a further nine months in order to bolster their case.

She also claims officers leaked key evidence to locals revealing the part she was playing in the inquiry.

Scotland’s police watchdog the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) confirmed it has been instructed by the Crown Office to probe ‘allegations of criminality’ against the force.

She said: ‘I have not just been manipulated by being lied to. I’ve been violated. I’ve been abused and taken advantage of.

‘I literally gave them as much as I could above and beyond. They never saw me as a human. They terrorised me. They intimidated me. They took me out of my job. Here I am, I’ve lost my job. I’ve lost my possessions. My family are terrified.’

Members of Mr Parsons’s family, including his widow Margaret (centre) and children Mike (left) and Victoria (right), were in court for today’s sentencing hearing

The widow of charity cyclist Tony Parsons, Margaret Parsons (left) and their daughter Victoria, arrive at the High Court for a hearing last month

Ms Muirhead described one incident where she walked into a pub, while the patrons all stopped and stared. She said the barman asked if she wanted a ‘Red Bull sugar free like the gravesite?’ and the other customers spat at her.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘It would not be appropriate to comment on these assertions as criminal proceedings have not concluded.

‘There are a number of outstanding complaints which will be progressed at the conclusion of all criminal proceedings.’

Members of Mr Parsons’s family, including his widow Margaret and children Mike and Victoria, were in court for today’s sentencing hearing.

The cyclist’s family released a statement after the guilty pleas, saying he loved ‘nothing more’ than spending time with his grandchildren. 

The statement said: ‘As you can imagine, not knowing what has happened to someone and then the devastating news that we were provided has taken its toll on all of us as a family. 

‘At last justice has been done and we would like to thank not only the court officials and officers from Police Scotland’s major investigation team, Forth Valley Division; and other Police Scotland departments who worked on this case, but all the volunteers and mountain rescue teams who tirelessly searched for him in the earlier stages of the inquiry.’

Mr Parson’s son Mike (right) and his wife arrive at the High Court, Glasgow, for the sentencing of drunk-driver Alexander McKellar who killed his father with his car on September 29, 2017

The final journey of former naval officer and charity cyclist Tony Parsons

Police officers search a valley on the outskirts of Tyndrum, Stirlingshire 

Both McKellars had been due to stand trial for murder, but appeared in court last month to plead guilty to lesser charges.

Sentencing Alexander McKellar, Judge Lord Armstrong said: ‘Alexander McKellar, on September 29, 2017, you consumed alcohol and you did drive from there in the direction of your home.

‘On the course of that night you collided with Tony Parsons on the A82 who was riding his bicycle. The extensive damage to the front of your vehicle is indicative of the force you hit him with.

‘He sustained multiple rib fractures and complex pelvic fractures.

‘The cause of his death is likely to have been a result of impacted breathing and a bleeding thorax.

‘Mr Parsons’s family have been deeply impacted and the emotional harm is ongoing.

‘There is nothing I can say or do to compensate for their loss.’

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