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Bouncer beat tragic student before fall


A BODY-BUILDING enthusiast has admitted beating an Edinburgh student just hours before the victim plunged to his death on the city's West Approach Road.

Liam Armstrong had been out celebrating his 21st birthday when he and his friends bumped into Andrew Couser and his friends at an all-night bakery in Morrison Street in the early hours of the morning.

A fight broke out between the two groups and just over two hours later Mr Couser - a 21-year-old sports science student at Napier University - fell to his death after climbing over railings above the main road.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, it was stressed by both the Crown and Defence that the young man's death was not as a result of the earlier assault. Sheriff Gordon Liddle said he accepted this was the case.

In court, 21-year-old Armstrong, originally from Perth, but now a student living in Caledonian Road, Edinburgh, pleaded guilty to "while acting with others" assaulting Mr Couser by punching him repeatedly on the head, knocking him to the ground and kicking him on the head on November 2 last year.

He also admitted assaulting two other men along with others.

Armstrong, a media studies student at Queen Margaret University College, had been out celebrating his 21st birthday, while Mr Couser was part of a different group celebrating a friend's 21st. The court heard both parties had drunk considerable amounts of alcohol.

Fiscal, Adrian Fraser, described the case as "sensitive and tragic" ending in the untimely death of Mr Couser. He added that the evidence and post mortem examination showed there was no link between the assault and Mr Couser's death.

The deceased, he said, had spoken to witnesses in the Oven Fresh bakery after the assault and had been seen climbing railings to find a place to eat what he had purchased.

The Fiscal said Mr Couser and his friends had drunk a number of bottles of wine before leaving their flat in James Square. They then drank more out in the Cowgate and on Lothian Road.

Defence advocate, Nial McCluskey, told Sheriff Liddle that Armstrong and his friends had been in the Haymarket Bar, the Hogshead Bar and the Espionage night club in Victoria Street for their celebrations.

"It was a very drunken evening" he said. His client, he added, was being "force-fed" alcohol.

The two groups met outside the Oven Fresh bakery about 3am and it was there that an argument began and pies were thrown.

The Fiscal said Armstrong was not present at this time and was phoned by one of his group, told of the assault and that there was likely to be further trouble.

The Fiscal had previously indicated that Armstrong supplemented his student income by acting as a door steward at pubs and clubs in the city.

He was also a keen bodybuilder, having won several junior competitions, and was described as powerfully built. Mr Couser too also worked as a door steward.

Mr Fraser said Armstrong returned to the bakery and ran toward Mr Couser.

He punched him repeatedly on the head, knocked him to the ground and kicked him "very forcibly" two or three times on the head.

He then took part in the assault on two other men, punching and kicking them.

Sheriff Liddle deferred sentence on Armstrong for background reports. He told the accused, who had a previous conviction for assault, that a custodial sentence was uppermost in his mind.


Morley Enterprises

Page Last Updated: 4 March, 2010

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