A motorist accused of hitting and killing charity cyclist Tony Parsons in a drink-driving collision has admitted murdering the 63-year-old and burying his body in a country estate.
31-year-old Alexander McKellar, who was speeding at the time of the fatal collision in September 2017, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of culpable homicide at Glasgow’s High Court today. He and twin brother Robert McKellar both admitted trying to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of Mr Parsons’ body in a grave in the Auch Estate near Bridge of Orchy.
Mr Parsons – who was 63 when he was reported missing while on a 104-mile charity bike ride from Fort William to his home in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire – was last seen at around 11.30pm on the evening of the 29 September outside the Bridge of Orchy Hotel in Argyll and Bute.
Repeated police appeals and searches failed to find the cyclist or his bike but, after the McKellar brothers were arrested in December 2020, Mr Parsons’ remains were discovered on 12 January 2021 close to a remote farm on the Auch Estate.
The High Court in Glasgow heard this week how a car being driven by Alexander McKellar, in which Robert was a passenger, 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.
They 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 phone. The pair later returned to put the cyclist’s body, along with his bike and other belongings, in another vehicle.
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.
As well as the murder charge, Alexander McKellar also faced the additional charges of causing death by dangerous driving by driving at excessive speed during the hours of darkness when his ability to drive was impaired by alcohol, or an alternative charge of causing death by driving without due care or attention while unfit through drink or drugs.
The brothers were also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice between 29 September 2017 and 3 January 2021.
Both men initially denied murdering the cyclist, with Alexander’s KC last year offering to plead guilty to causing death by dangerous driving or, alternatively, careless driving while unfit through drink or drugs – though this plea was rejected by prosecutor James Irvine.
However, today Alexander McKellar pleaded guilty to the reduced plea of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter in Scottish law.
Robert, who entered not guilty pleas to all relevant charges earlier this week, had his not guilty plea to murder accepted.
Both brothers admitted attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
Mr Parsons’ family were at the High Court today to hear the guilty plea. In a statement, they described the 63-year-old as a “much-loved husband, dad, and grandad”, and described the “heartbreak” they experienced during the years he was missing.
“When he said goodbye and set off on his charity cycle from Fort William that Friday, none of us expected it to be the last time we would be able to see or speak to him,” they said.
“Throughout the six years since he went missing and then the subsequent criminal investigation, we had been left with many unanswered questions and it has been heartbreaking for each and every member of the family being unable to get these answers.
“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.”
The case continues on Friday.
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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.