Murder trial teen threatened to torch victim’s home previously


by Paul Thornton

A TEENAGER accused of deliberately burning his girlfriend to death threatened to torch her home almost a year previously, a court was told yesterday.

The mother of Jessica McCagh told how murder accused Stewart Blackburn made the threat during an angry phone call.

At the High Court in Livingston, Marion McCagh recalled how she snatched a mobile phone from her daughter Jessica’s hands while the 17-year-old was rowing with Mr Blackburn in July 2008.

Mrs McCagh, 47, told a jury her daughter had been staying with her then boyfriend at weekends, but had fallen out with him.

She decided to intervene by taking over the conversation with Mr Blackburn, and recalled: “He said he was going to burn the house down with petrol if he didn’t see Jessica.Solicitor General Frank Mulholland, prosecuting, asked her to confirm that Stewart Blackburn had threatened to petrol bomb the house.

Denies Murder

She replied: “Petrol bomb the house, yes.”

Prosecutors allege Mr Blackburn threw petrol over Miss McCagh and her bed before setting fire to her, causing the injuries that killed her in April this year.

The 18-year-old admits killing his then girlfriend but denies murder.

He also faces an assault charge against Miss McCagh and other claims he pointed an air-rifle at two men and repeatedly pulled the trigger.

During Mrs McCagh’s evidence, it emerged that in July 2008, Mr Blackburn was guilty of an assault on Jessica’s dad Garry.

He turned up outside their house threatening violence before he assaulted her husband and police were called.

He was arrested and later pleaded guilty to the assault.


Marion said: “I know he got probation or whatever.”

The High Court earlier heard from husband Garry who told how he cradled his daughter as she told him she loved him and didn’t want to die.

He said he was woken by Mr Blackburn banging on his door shortly before 4am on April 25 – the day that his daughter died.

Mr McCagh, 50, lived just 100 yards from his flat in Arbroath where Jessica was staying the night before she died.

He said: “There was a banging on the door about quarter to four in the morning.

“(It was) Stewart Blackburn. He was wearing a T-shirt and boxer shorts. He was curled up in a ball leaning against a column in my block.”

“My wife asked him Stewart ‘what is the matter?’ and he said ‘Jessica, Jessica is dead.

Bad state

“I ran down the stairs and bolted to his house.

“I saw police, as I was running a policeman stood at the entry and I saw smoke. I just saw black smoke.”

“I just ran towards the door and that’s when I saw Jessica lying outside the front door.

“She was outside, I put my head down because of the smoke and I saw my bairn, Jessica lying.

“I picked her up and dragged her out. I lost my grip because she was wet.

“I pulled her back, I pulled her out.

“I put her on the grass. (She was in a) very bad state.

“She said I don’t want to die, I love you.”


Afterwards Mrs McCagh travelled in the ambulance with her dying daughter to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, but teenager died from her injuries.

Paramedics told court she suffered 90 per cent burns.

Earlier upstairs neighbour Ricci Foreman, 19, who tried to save her told how the accused fled the scene shouting: “Jessica’s dead.”

He said: “I heard an explosion like a big boom and then I heard screaming. Jessica McCagh screaming.

“As I fell into the door, Stewart Blackburn runs through the bedroom into the hall and shouts ‘Jessica is dead’ and sprints out the front door.

“I was standing in the hallway. Jessica came out with her arms in front of her shouting ‘help me, Ricci, help me’.

“She was covered head to toe in flames with what looked like a duvet wrapped around her which looked like it was melting to her as her face was melting off.”


“Her face was melting.

“I grabbed the fish tank from the kitchen and threw it over Jessica.

“She went out but she reignited again so I re-filled the fish tank about three or four times and kept throwing it over her.

“I had difficulty breathing. The smoke was getting thicker and thicker. The heat was incredible.

“My main thing was just to try and save my friend.”

The trial, before Judge Lord Bracadale, is expected to continue on Monday.

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  1. So this Blackburn guy had assaulted the father and threatened to kill (via arson) a whole family, then took shots at 2 cops, and was still walking free. In a truly civilized society, he would have been locked up and possibly euthanized. I wonder how long he’ll stay locked up now.

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