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Drink driver who killed charity cyclist and hid body jailed for 12 years

Alexander McKellar admitted culpable homicide related to the death of 63-year-old Tony Parsons, while his brother Robert was also sentenced to five years and three months in prison

A motorist who killed charity cyclist Tony Parsons in a drink driving collision, before hiding his body in a shallow grave on a remote country estate, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

31-year-old Alexander McKellar was speeding at the time of the fatal collision in September 2017, which took place on the A82 near Bridge of Orchy. McKellar, along with twin brother Robert, a passenger in the car at the time, left Mr Parsons to die, before later returning to dispose of the 63-year-old’s body in a grave at the nearby Auch Estate. His remains were found over three years later.

In July, Alexander McKellar pleaded guilty at Glasgow’s High Court to the reduced charge of culpable homicide, while both brothers admitted trying to defeat the ends of justice.

Robert McKellar was also jailed today for five years and three months.

Anthony Parsons in Glencoe Village (via Police Scotland)

> Motorist admits killing charity cyclist in drink driving collision and burying body

Mr Parsons – who was 63 when he was reported missing – was last seen at around 11.30pm on the evening of 29 September 2017 outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel in Argyll and Bute.

The former navy officer was in the middle of a 104-mile charity bike ride from Fort William to his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, in a bid to “give something back” after previously being treated for prostate cancer.

Despite repeated police appeals, Crimewatch appearances, the release of CCTV footage, and extensive searches – involving local mountain rescue teams, volunteers, Police Scotland dogs, and the force’s air support unit – the whereabouts of the grandfather or his bike remained a mystery for over three years.

Alexander McKellar (Police Scotland)

Alexander McKellar (Police Scotland)

But after Alexander McKellar confided in his girlfriend and showed her the grave, the brothers were arrested in December 2020, with Mr Parsons’ remains finally being discovered on 12 January 2021 close to a remote farm on the Auch Estate.

Glasgow’s High Court has heard over the past month, following the brothers’ guilty pleas, that on the day of the incident they had been drinking with a shooting party at the Bridge of Orchy hotel. As Alexander McKellar drove back to the Auch Estate, where the brothers were self-employed farm workers, he hit Mr Parsons.

Following the collision on the A82, the brothers failed to seek medical attention, which prosecutors said showed “wicked and reckless disregard” for the consequences.

> Family of cyclist who went missing on charity ride to sue driver who killed him then hid body

The court heard that the cyclist’s injuries were so severe that he would only have survived for 20 or 30 minutes without help, but that it was also unlikely that he had died instantly. He suffered “catastrophic” rib, pelvic, and spinal fractures in the collision, as well as a probable collapsed lung, with his rib injuries believed to be the “most immediate cause of death” due to the effect on his breathing.

The brothers initially abandoned Mr Parsons at the side of a dark, remote road before driving to the Auch Estate, where they dumped the damaged car, along with their phones. The pair later returned to put the cyclist’s body, along with his bike and other belongings, in another vehicle.

Robert McKellar (Police Scotland)

Robert McKellar (Police Scotland)

Mr Parsons’ body was then allegedly hidden under a tarpaulin in a wooded section, before being taken to another location used for the “purposes of disposing dead animals”. The brothers then dug a grave and covered the cyclist with animal remains and bleach before being burying him along with his possessions.

When the brothers took the vehicle they were travelling in at the time of the collision for repairs, they claimed that the damage had been caused by a collision with a deer.

Mr Parsons’ body was only discovered after Alexander McKellar’s girlfriend Caroline Muirhead alerted police to the location by leaving a crushed tin of Red Bull at the site of the grave.

Last week, it was reported that Ms Muirhead is to take legal action against Police Scotland after claiming that officers allegedly pressured her to continue to spy on the McKellar brothers, who did not know she had contacted the police, in a bid to collect more evidence.

It is also alleged that officers threatened Ms Muirhead with legal action if she did not cooperate, with her complaints now reportedly being investigated by the police watchdog.

In an interview with Sky News, Muirhead said that she fears for her life, believing that her former fiancé would seek revenge for her actions once out of prison, especially if he was “drunk or intoxicated”.

> Woman who helped authorities find body of charity cyclist killed by her boyfriend now to sue police

Speaking at the sentencing today, Judge Lord Armstrong said the brothers had caused Mr Parsons’ family “devastating loss and emotional ongoing harm”.

“I suspect no sentence will ever be regarded as sufficient,” he said.

Brian McConnachie KC, the defence lawyer for Alexander McKellar, told the court that his client wanted to apologise for the family’s trauma.

“He is not an evil man,” McConnachie said. “He acknowledges that he has done a terrible thing which has caused untold distress to the Parsons family.

“He would do anything he could to alter the decision he took in September 2017, but he cannot rewind the clock.”

John Scullion KC, defending Robert McKellar, said he had exhibited “misplaced loyalty” towards his brother in trying to cover up the death.

“He bitterly regrets his callous and cowardly actions,” he said.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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21 comments

Avatar
OldRidgeback | 11 months ago
1 like

That's not a very severe sentence when you consider the crime.

Avatar
The _Kaner | 11 months ago
1 like

Shockingly insufficient sentencing for both of these blaggards.

Avatar
IanMSpencer | 11 months ago
4 likes

Love to see the breakdown of that sentencing.

 

Would it be too cynical to suggest:

1) Killing a cyclist (admitted as culpable homicide), 12 months, suspended. These things happen.

2) Drink driving, zero, not considered.

3) Perverting the course of justice, 12 years.

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to IanMSpencer | 11 months ago
1 like

And troublingly if they'd reported it at the time I think there's a good chance they'd not actually have gone to prison. They'd need a bit of time management to cover up the drinking, or lend uncertainty to its effect. Or get someone else to say they were driving.

No (neutral) witnesses so "he swerved in front of me" can't be refuted.

By their actions these don't seem to be the types to go to the police though.

Avatar
bikes | 11 months ago
0 likes

"they claimed that the damage had been caused by a collision with a deer." Do body shops have to record or register these kinds of repairs? Did having this repair done flag them as suspects to the police or did it only come up after they received the information from the girlfriend?

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to bikes | 11 months ago
2 likes

Given how often people drive into stuff, and given how little we seem to care about that...

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to chrisonabike | 11 months ago
2 likes

About 2 million settled claims a year - of which about 150,000 are theft. So at that volume, suspicious damage bound to get lost without being able to identify likely vehicle types.

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tigersnapper | 11 months ago
6 likes

Pathetic.  Sums up so much that is wrong with the British justice system!

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dubwise | 11 months ago
7 likes

They should be rotting in jail for the rest of their sad miserable lives rather than being out in a few years.

Avatar
lonpfrb replied to dubwise | 11 months ago
2 likes
dubwise wrote:

They should be rotting in jail for the rest of their sad miserable lives rather than being out in a few years.

How are these not aggrevating factors leading to an increase in the sentence:

  • Drunk driving
  • Abandoning a person to die, not providing help
  • Burying the victims body
  • Perverting the course of justice
  • He should be detained for the rest of his life.

    Avatar
    Hirsute replied to lonpfrb | 11 months ago
    2 likes

    Hung, drawn and quartered.
    And I'm supposed to be forgiving.

    What happened was exactly the sort of thing an evil person would do.

    Avatar
    Safety replied to lonpfrb | 11 months ago
    1 like
    lonpfrb][quote=dubwise wrote:

    They should be rotting in jail for the rest of their sad miserable lives rather than being out in a few years.

    How are these not aggrevating factors leading to an increase in the sentence:

  • Drunk driving
  • Abandoning a person to die, not providing help
  • Burying the victims body
  • Perverting the course of justice
  • Don't forget a history of previous offences as well.

    Avatar
    brooksby | 11 months ago
    14 likes

    Quote:

    “He bitterly regrets his callous and cowardly actions,” he said.

    B0ll0cks he does! surprise

    Avatar
    iandusud replied to brooksby | 11 months ago
    11 likes

    brooksby wrote:

    Quote:

    “He bitterly regrets his callous and cowardly actions,” he said.

    B0ll0cks he does! surprise

    "He bitterly regrets that his girlfriend grassed him up" I think is what he meant.

    Avatar
    essexian | 11 months ago
    20 likes

    "“He is not an evil man,” McConnachie said."

    If the Mods will forgive me.... Like FUCK he isn't!

    Joke sentence. Twelve and 5 years?! Frankly, not sufficient. They should have been left to rot. 

    Avatar
    Capt Sisko replied to essexian | 11 months ago
    15 likes

    Mods. Please do not delete this comment because of the fruity language. It sums up exactly what so many of us are thinking but were perhaps a little too restraint to say.

    Thanks essexian.

    Avatar
    swldxer replied to Capt Sisko | 11 months ago
    6 likes

    Hang about - I got a month's ban for calling "wing" mirrors - door mirrors.

    Avatar
    Eton Rifle replied to swldxer | 11 months ago
    2 likes
    swldxer wrote:

    Hang about - I got a month's ban for calling "wing" mirrors - door mirrors.

    Well, you could take it to Watchdog but I think they've got bigger fish to fry.

    Avatar
    hawkinspeter replied to swldxer | 11 months ago
    7 likes

    swldxer wrote:

    Hang about - I got a month's ban for calling "wing" mirrors - door mirrors.

    Well, road.cc is clearly part of the Big Wing Mirror industrial complex.

    I once applied for a job in a car door factory, working on the production line fitting mirrors - it was a job I could really see myself doing

    Avatar
    Daclu Trelub replied to hawkinspeter | 11 months ago
    0 likes

    Quote:

    I once applied for a job in a car door factory, working on the production line fitting mirrors - it was a job I could really see myself doing

    Your coat's lying on the rose bush in the front garden.

    Avatar
    Capt Sisko replied to swldxer | 11 months ago
    3 likes

    You've got to admit it though, even aeroplanes don't have 'wing' mirrors.

     

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