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Police search after man dies following street brawl
Scores of officers called in as up to 15 men wield bats and street signs in Elgin
Aberdeen Press and Journal - 25th June 2010
Police have launched a major investigation after a man died following a huge brawl in a Moray street.
Scores of officers were called to the scene in Lesmurdie Road, on the outskirts of Elgin, after the fight broke out about 3am yesterday.
Terrified residents called police after watching as many as 15 men beat each other with wooden sticks, baseball bats and golf clubs.
One man, named locally as Stephen Johnston, 38, died after making his own way to Dr Gray’s Hospital at Elgin.
Meanwhile, 55 miles away at Blackburn, near Aberdeen, a 25-year-old man was seriously injured after reportedly being stabbed with a screwdriver.
Police are investigating the possibility that the two incidents are linked.
Locals described Mr Johnston, from Lossiemouth, as a “hard-working” labourer who had lived in the area for some time. He was thought to be Irish.
A work colleague said: “He was a hard grafter and had been involved with a couple of projects recently for the Moray Council flood-prevention scheme.
“People always asked for him back because they knew he would do the job well. It’s awfully sad.”
Police said another man, named locally as Andrew Wilson, 22, was also taken to hospital with minor leg and hand injuries.
Neighbour Cassie McCutcheon, 18, said she had looked on in horror as the group of 10-15 men battered each other with weapons.
“I saw guys hitting each other and shouting and swearing,” she said. “They were going mad.
“One lad had a house-for-sale sign and was running down the road trying to hit someone with it.
Ms McCutcheon added: “It was all a mess. It was horrible. I was surprised to hear that someone was dead.”
Officers cordoned off a large section of Lesmurdie Road as forensic officers examined the scene. A police incident unit was set up in the middle of the road.
Police continued door-to-door inquiries throughout the afternoon.
Detective Superintendent Campbell Thomson said: “Grampian Police were called to a disturbance in the Lesmurdie Road area of Elgin in the early hours of the morning.
“Shortly afterwards, a male presented himself at Dr Gray’s Hospital and subsequently died.
“As a result of that, Grampian Police have launched an investigation into the suspicious death of that male.
“We have more than 50 officers involved.”
He appealed for witnesses to come forward with any details that could be critical to their investigation.
Mr Thomson refused to reveal whether anyone had been charged or whether any weapons were involved.
Meanwhile, the incident in the village of Blackburn happened in Kinellar playpark about 8pm on Wednesday.
It is understood the victim – who is said to be local and the father of a young child – managed to make his way home before the emergency services were alerted.
A police spokesman said his injuries were believed to be serious but not life-threatening.
The park remained cordoned off yesterday and officers stood watch as investigators examined the scene.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said: “Apparently he was stabbed with a screwdriver. I think there was going to be a fight or something and it got out of hand.”
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