A 40-year-old man has been sentenced to jail for five years after being convicted of attempted murder – punching a father-of-one from a train and under the wheels. The Glasgow High Court heard that after Justin McDonald hit 33-year-old Philip Gault, the victim fell between the train he was exiting and the platform of Sunnyside railway station.
The trio were riding the last train from Edinburgh to Glasgow and were getting off at Sunnyside in Coatbridge. When Philip fell under the train on August 13 last year, his right leg got caught, and he was dragged on the tracks for a few hundred yards. He was travelling with his wife, Lee – who was punched by McDonald and knocked unconscious before the attacker walked away.
During his trial, McDonald denied trying to murder Philip and claimed he was acting in self-defence after being head-butted and punched. The jury was shown CCTV footage from the station that showed Philip walking away from McDonald after punching him. Defence attorney Derick Nelson said that McDonald is remorseful of what happened and wrote a letter to the couple. The lawyer also expressed to the court how sorry Philip is, and noted that he shudders to think of how this incident could have effected the young family if Philip had died.
However, after 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury convicted him of punching Philip in the head, which caused him to fall between the train and platform. He was convicted for punching Lee and knocking her unconscious as well.
Prosecutor Kath Harper noted that McDonald had been convicted of assault and possession of a knife in the past. During the trial, taxi driver Philip said that McDonald told him to give him a can of lager, to which he responded ‘no’. The court also heard that, when another passenger asked him for a can, Philip gave it to him. He explained that the second man was polite when he approached him. He doesn’t remember saying anything to upset McDonald, and the last thing he remembers is seeing the train doors opening.
Philip continued his testimony, saying that the next thing he knew was that he was wedged between a big wall and the train. He was scared, as his right leg was stuck to the train, like his trousers had been ripped. He couldn’t get his leg off whatever had caught him. At the time, the train was still in the station, but then it started to move. He was able to grab onto something metal on the train with his right arm, but as the train started to speed up, he could feel his head banging on the ground. He doesn’t remember how he broke free.
Philip was taken to Monklands Hospital, and spent four days there. He suffered several injuries – a dislocated left shoulder, damage to ligaments in his left knee, and scarring to his left arm, left leg and back. He also has flashbacks of the incident and has trouble sleeping.
Judge Lord Tyre said at the sentencing that Philip and Lee were walking away from him when he assaulted and caused Philip to fall off the platform as the train was moving away. It’s shameful that he didn’t do anything to help Philip or raise alert after realising what happened. Judge Lord Tyre added that it’s fortunate that he wasn’t in court on a murder charge.