Nov 15 2012 By Andrea O'Neill
Charges against six men accused of the attempted murder of an East Kilbride dad have been dropped.
John Steele,who was cleared by a jury in December last year of murdering 20-year-old Paul (PJ) Douglass, suffered life-threatening injuries on the night of the killing.
Six men from East Kilbride – Robert Black, 30, Stephen Park, 25, Sean McInnes, 21, Nicki Morgan, 20,Shane Perry, 19, and Gary Black 22, – were later charged with attempting to murder John Steele on April 29, 2011.
It was confirmed this week that charges against all six had been dropped.
A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “It is the duty of the Crown to keep cases under review and after full and careful consideration of all of the available evidence, Crown Counsel instructed that there should be no further proceedings in relation to this matter.”
During the alleged incident Steele suffered stab injuries to his chest, leg and groin. He was slashed on the back and head and was stamped and kicked in the face.
He spent six weeks in Hairmyres Hospital following the alleged incident, some of that time in an induced coma.
Speaking to the News this week, the 34-year-old who has moved away from the town, said he was aware that the attempted murder charges against the six had been dropped.
“I believe, while there was DNA evidence, there was lack of corroberation.
“I have mixed emotions about this not going to trial. It means I do not have to face them in court . I would have done it if I had to, but it was not something I was eager to do.
“This has been so traumatic. It may be a good thing that me and my son do not have to go through any more turmoil.”
Since he was cleared of PJ’s murder, family and friends of the talented young trainee chef have called for Steele to be retried.
During his trial at Glasgow High Court, witnesses said they had seen the father-of-one attack PJ, who was stabbed to death outside the flat in Greenhills.
Steele, who lodged a special defence of self-defence, said he did not recall the stabbing and said if he did kill PJ is must have been in self-defence.
Campaigners claim new evidence has come to light and have written to the Lord Advocate seeking a retrial. They also handed over a 1000-strong petition to Justice Minister Kenny McAskill. A family friend said this week they were relieved charges against the six had been dropped.
“We hope the Crown will concentrate on new evidence and go all out for a retrial so we can get justice for PJ.”