Police solve 'axe murder' captured on Google Street View in Edinburgh

Two men from a car shop revealed how they played the prank

What would you do if you saw a man brandishing a pick-axe handle standing above a lifeless body in a backstreet?

Hopefully, you would call the police, as an alarmed member of the public did after seeing this scene on Google Street View.

The camera car recorded the disturbing scene from different angles as it travelled down Giles Street in Leith, Edinburgh, showing a man apparently being attacked from a distance and his assailant walking away from the scene.

But police who traced the assailant to a car repair shop in the road were relieved to discover it was a well-timed prank by two mechanics.

The “dead” man, Dan Thompson, 56, was the manager of the business and in very good health.

He told the Independent how he and Gary Kerr, a 31-year-old mechanic, decided to have some fun when they saw the Street View car approaching in August 2012.

 “It was in the spur of the moment,” Mr Thompson said. “It seemed like the obvious thing to do so I threw myself on the ground and Gary grabbed a pick-axe handle from the garage.

“We only had about 20 seconds – it was all we could think of.”

The 'murder' turned out to be a prank

The pair forgot all about the joke until the photos were uploaded by Google a few months later and friends and family started calling.

“It’s absolutely bizarre,” Mr Thompson said. “I suppose people don’t spend their time looking on Street View at a rough backstreet in Leith.”

Luckily, the two police officers who eventually came knocking saw the funny side.

Mr Thompson said: “They were already pretty certain it was a joke because one of their colleagues gets their car serviced here.

“They thought it was a really good laugh and in five minutes they were gone.”

The 'murder' turned out to be a prank

It is not the only time scenes captured by Google have caused concern.

In another prank, a 10-year-old girl in Worcester “played dead” a little too well for the Street View car and pictures of her lying face-down on the pavement caused panic.

A Google Earth image from a lake in Almere in the Netherlands seemed to show a trail of blood leading to a shadowy figure on a jetty.

The grizzly scene turned out to be an illusion caused by water left on wooden planks by a dog after a swim.

Several couples have also, ahem, “performed” for Street View cameras around the world.