Man, 29, killed stranger after pushing her off pier 'for a bit of fun’

4 August 2022, 00:39 | Updated: 4 August 2022, 00:42

Jacob Foster has been convicted of the culpable homicide of Charmaine O'Donnell.
Jacob Foster has been convicted of the culpable homicide of Charmaine O'Donnell. Picture: Police Scotland/Facebook

By Kit Heren

A man has been convicted of pushing a stranger to her death off a pier in Scotland "for a bit of fun".

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Jacob Foster, 29, has been found guilty of culpable homicide in connection with the death of Charmaine O'Donnell, 25, at Helensburgh Pier, in Argyll and Bute, last April.

Foster, from Helensburgh, has a learning difficulty and denied murder at a trial at Glasgow High Court.

His culpable homicide conviction on Wednesday came after his lawyers lodged a plea of diminished responsibility.

The court heard that PC Gary Davidson spoke to Foster at the pier immediately after the incident, the Mirror reported.

PC Davidson said: "He said that it was an accident. He said: 'I just pushed her. It was just a bit of fun'.

"He said that he had a few cans that day. I said to him the best thing was to stay calm and not say anything, but he said these things again and again."

Foster said: "I did not know that she could not swim."

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Charmaine was killed in the tragic incident.
Charmaine was killed in the tragic incident. Picture: Facebook

Ms O'Donnell, a charity worker from Glasgow, had been on a visit to the pier with a friend on April 23, 2021, when Foster came up to them while they chatted to a group of other men.

There was "a commotion", the court heard and Ms O'Donnell was pushed in. She died after suffering severe neck injuries and drowning.

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Ms O'Donnell's friend Caitlin McTaggart said that she heard someone went over the pier, but did not realise it was Ms O'Donnell until someone said "that's your pal".

Ms McTaggart said: "I was screaming at [Mr Foster] to help her. He just kept saying: 'What have I done? I have taken it too far this time. I am going away for a long time'."

Read more: Man charged with murder of woman who disappeared on night out 10 years ago

A man standing nearby told the court that Ms O'Donnell had been standing with her back to Mr Foster when he pushed her in.

Defending Foster, his lawyer Sean Templeton said he should be acquitted. "It was a young man with learning difficulties who got it wrong."

But prosecutor Alex Prentice said there was "overwhelming" evidence Foster pushed Ms O'Donnell and insisted it was "deliberate conduct".

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Commenting on the conviction, Police Scotland chief inspector Samantha Glasgow said: “This has been a distressing time for everyone involved. We welcome the conviction of Jacob Foster and hope that it brings some comfort to the family and friends of Charmaine O’Donnell who lost her life.”

Foster will be sentenced at a later date.

It emerged after the jury returned their verdict that he had a number of previous convictions, including an assault on a Costa staff member in 2018.

Read more: Police officer 'sent naked selfie to sex assault victim and said he wanted to use handcuffs on her'

Ms O'Donnell was on furlough from her job and was due to go back to work a week after she died, the BBC reported.

Her family released a tribute saying their "hearts have been broken".

“The past 15 months have been the most difficult time we have ever had to face. Losing Charmaine has changed our lives for ever. We will never be the same again. Our hearts have been broken," her family said.

“She had her whole life ahead of her. She had a great personality and sense of humour, warming the hearts of all who met her.”

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