Garry Lockhart, the Bonnyrigg man on trial for murdering his wife and two-year old son told a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh on Tuesday (September 16) that his belief in reincarnation and the after-life, meant that by his committing suicide, they would be together again as a family unit.
The 33-year old funeral director admitted strangling his wife, Janet, and suffocating their son, Michael, after returning to the family home at South Chesters Lane, drunk in the early hours of Saturday, December 28 last year.
The court had heard previously that his blood alcohol level had been three times over the drink-driving limit.
Looking gaunt and pale in the witness box, Lockhart was asked by his defence solicitor advocate, Brian Gilfedder, if he accepted murdering Janet and killing Michael. He replied: “Yes” to both questions. Asked how his family life had been, he replied: “Good”, and that he had loved his wife and son.
He agreed that he had “snapped” during a row with his wife about coming home late, drunk and strangling her. “Would it be fair to say if you had not drunk the amount you had taken earlier that night and got involved in a row with Janet that Janet would still be around today?” asked Mr Gilfedder. “Yes” was the reply. “What was going through your mind after you realised Janet was dead?” he was asked. “I could not believe it had happened. I didn’t believe it was real. I sat for a while and during that time I thought of getting back with Janet” he said. “The first thing I thought was for Michael and getting his breakfast. It was a few minutes later I realised what had happened”.
Lockhart said: “Because of the way I was thinking, the only way this issue could be resolved was for Michael and I and Janet to come back together as a family unit”. “Are you talking about reincarnation?” asked Mr Gilfedder.”Is it something you believe in ?” “Yes” he answered. “I hoped if I had a successful suicide attempt I would be with Michael and Janet”. Mr Gilfedder asked him: “Looking back on that thought process, what do you think about it now?” He replied: “The thought process at the time was wrong. I didn’t know what sort of life I would have had, but I would still be living”.
“You thought it was better to kill Michael and kill yourself?” asked Mr Gilfedder. “Yes”. His solicitor added: “If you had not murdered Janet, you would not have harmed Michael?” “No”.
Advocate Depute, Iain McSporran, asked Lockhart, after realising he had killed his wife, what he should have done. He replied: “I should not have killed Michael and Michael would be here just now and be brought up by his grandparents. My thought process at the time was for us to be together. It is different now. I should not have killed Michael”.
Mr McSporran asked him: “Do you, here and now, want to be with Janet and Michael?” “Eventually I will” he said. “Is that what you want to happen?” asked the Depute. “Yes”. “Is that what you believe?” “Yes”. Mr McSporran asked him if he believed in reincarnation and the afterlife. “It is something I have come to” replied Lockhart. “You can come back a number of times and eventually you will end up in heaven”.
Mr McSporran asked: “You decided to end Michael’s earthly life so he could be with you and Janet?” “Michael is with Janet now.” Lockhart answered. “ I want Michael to be with Janet and me. I want us to be together and this was the only way I could achieve it”. He added that the three of them would be on “an improved level of existence”.
The Advocate Depute put it to Lockhart that he was being “selfish”. “The best thing you could do is accept that you murdered Michael” “I just don’t accept that” replied Lockhart. Mr McSporran added: “You believed this even as the last breath was leaving his body. You murdered Michaal as much as you murdered Janet, this was even worse because it was deliberate”. “I don’t accept that” replied Lockhart.
The Depute commented that some psychiatrist might say that he had been suffering from an “acute stress reaction” and “You have latched onto that. You deliberately took his life because of a pre-existing belief”. “That’s the only way I thought it could happen” answered Lockhart.
The trail before Lady Wise was adjourned until tomorrow (Wed) when two psychiatrists are expected to give evidence.
Read coverage from earlier in the murder trial in this week’s Advertiser. Out now.