Witness tells of discovery of human head

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A dog walker told a trial today how she found a decomposed human head in a bag beside a footpath.

Anita Anderson, 41, said she thought she would find a dead animal in the bag but saw human hair when she went to investigate further.

She became "a bit shaken" after touching the bag's contents and went back home to fetch her partner.

Jurors heard how the couple later summoned police to the Edinburgh footpath when they returned to the scene, emptied the bag and found the head.

Ms Anderson, a make-up artist, was giving evidence at the trial of Alan Cameron, 56, who denies murdering mother-of-four Heather Stacey, 44, at her Edinburgh flat in 2007.

Cameron admitted hiding her body for over a year and then chopping it up and dumping her remains in bags.

Ms Anderson told the High Court in Livingston that she took her dog for a walk down a footpath in Hawthornvale on the morning of December 31 2008.

She noticed a blue Ikea bag "sticking out like a sore thumb" and said she wondered why a bag which seemed so neatly tied up had apparently been abandoned.

Ms Anderson said she then turned her attention to a black bin liner next to the blue bag, which she opened and looked in.

"Then I saw hair," she told the court.

"Being a make-up artist, I deal with hair all the time. I knew it was dyed human hair but it looked quite faded."

Describing how she touched the contents of the bag with her gloved hand before closing it, she said: "Obviously by that time I'm a bit shaken."

Ms Anderson said she had tried to think of possible explanations for what she had seen and headed home to tell her partner about the "highly suspicious" discovery.

"By that time I must have warmed up a bit and that's the first time I smelt the smell because I still had gloves on," she said.

"It was really overpowering. It sort of hits you the same way as dog dirt but I knew it wasn't that."

The witness told how she returned to the scene with her partner, Jem Kitchen, 47, who emptied the bag.

"It was quite a well-decomposed human head," she told the court.

"It's the sort of thing you don't ever expect to come across in your life. I was quite shaken about it."

Jurors were shown pictures of Ms Stacey's severed head.

The photographs, taken at the spot where the head was found, were shown during the evidence of identification officer Alan Cowe, who works with the Scottish Police Services Authority.

Mr Cowe, 52, told how the area was cordoned off and that he had ordered photographs to be taken of the scene.

Earlier a witness told the trial he felt his skin crawl when he approached the bags lying near the path, days before the head was discovered.

David Docherty, 47, said he spotted the bag while walking his dog along the path around nine days before Christmas.

He said: "I thought there was something unusual about it. I went to open the bag up but the smell hit me. The skin on my hands was crawling, so I went away from it. It was just a horrible feeling and smell.

"I had to run and wash my hands. It felt like they were crawling with insects."

Mr Docherty told how, days later, he heard through the news that a head had been found.

He said that when he mentioned the discovery to Cameron, who was working in a local shop at the time, the accused "shrugged his shoulders".

One of the victim's neighbours, 58-year-old Margot Goudie, told the court Ms Stacey was a "very nice person" and identified Cameron as Ms Stacey's boyfriend.

Cameron denies murdering Ms Stacey at her home in Royston Mains Place, Edinburgh, between November 29 and December 11 2007.

The trial before Lord Matthews continues tomorrow.