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An island man was injured in a “big ball of flames,” a court has heard.

Iain Gillies - also known as John - was treated for serious injuries after an incident in Castlebay, Barra, in June 2014.

John Christie, 30, of Castlebay, denies spraying a flammable substance on his head and body, then igniting the substance which burnt him to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

Giving evidence, Thomas Barber, of Carmarthen, Wales, told procurator fiscal, Karen Smith, he was frightened, “scared to move” and did not help Mr Gillies when he was on fire in Christie‘s living room.

The jury heard John Christie and Thomas Barber worked on the same Barra-owned shellfish boat, MFV Boy Darren, at the time.

Thomas Barber often lived on board while the vessel was in port but this time he stayed at Christie’s house.

Iain Gillies came over and “drank a bottle of whisky, he said.

He told the fiscal: “I was half asleep and the next thing I know I saw this big ball of flames.”

He presumed it “must have been” Christie as “he had a lighter and a can of deodorant” and was next to Mr Gillies.

He added: “Mr Gillies stayed on the couch“ but fell on the floor “after a while.“

The fiscal asked: “What happened to the ball of flames?”

”It just went out,” responded Mr Barber.

He added: “I was quite shocked and worried about what was going on.“

He was “scared” to say anything to Christie.

Mr Barber said he “didn‘t think“ Mr Gillies was awake when he caught fire.

He said: “He was suffering from the effects of alcohol - he had just drunk a bottle of whisky.”

Mr Barber “took a picture on my phone.”

He said Christie later deleted the image when he used the mobile to make a call.

The fiscal said she found it “very difficult” to understand why he did not help Mr Gillies at all.

Mr Barber said “I kept out of the way. I wanted to get away from there really.”

“Surely you could have intervened,” queried the fiscal.

“That’s easy for you to say. I’m 600 miles from my own house in a dangerous situation,” he replied.

“Why do you think it is a dangerous situation?” asked Ms Smith.

Mr Barber responded: “What happens if it happens to me. It could have.”

He agreed he was “frightened.”

Defence lawyer, Neil Allan, pointed out: “You faced the self same charges as Mr Christie until yesterday and now you are a prosecution witness.”

“Yes,” replied Mr Barber.

The solicitor put it to the witness: “Is it not the case you really have no idea at all what happened to cause Mr Gillies’ injuries?”

Mr Barber said: “I know what happened.”

Mr Allan said: “That story about the photo - that is just complete invention, isn’t it?”

Mr Barber responded: “No.”

The solicitor stated: “It is just an invention to say it was a game or an accident” which went wrong.

The trial before Sheriff Chris Dickson continues.






Islander injured in a “big ball of flames,” court hears

15 February 2017

Thomas Barber