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Murder trial told victim's skeleton found by urban explorer

A man has told a murder trial he found a human skeleton while pursuing his hobby of exploring disused buildings.

James Fenton, 37, said he was looking around a unit at an industrial estate in Glenrothes, Fife, when he saw what he thought were animal bones or a prop.

He said he called the police when he saw a skull among the debris.

David Barnes denies murdering 61-year-old Ean Coutts, adopting his identity to withdraw money and apply for a Viagra prescription, among 36 charges.

Mr Coutts' body was found at the Whitehill industrial estate in September 2020.

Mr Fenton told the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday that he, his partner and others would look around old buildings and take photos.

He said he knew the industrial estate because he had work done on his car there, and that some units were derelict.

He said the group had been looking at some of the properties when they went into a unit which had a small room off the main area.

Describing what he saw, he said: "At first I thought it was just like animal bones."

He said when he moved a black tray, he saw a foot and the back of a skull.

Mr Fenton said: "I still wasn't convinced it was a body. I thought it was a prop."

After his companions also looked at the bones, he contacted the police.

Murder, fraud and theft charges

Mr Fenton was giving evidence on the first day of proceedings against Mr Barnes, of Fife, who is standing trial on a total of 36 charges.

Prosecutors claim he murdered Mr Coutts by "means unknown" on 3 September 2019 at 144 Main Street in Kinglassie, Fife, or "elsewhere in Scotland meantime unknown to the prosecutor".

The Crown also alleges that he attempted to defeat the ends of justice by placing Mr Coutts's body inside a wheelie bin.

He is then alleged to have deposited his body in an "abandoned industrial unit" in Glenrothes, Fife, before attempting to burn his body.

Mr Barnes is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice and a number of fraud and theft charges.

These include applying for a repeat prescription for Nicotine patches and Viagra while pretending to be Mr Coutts.

It is also alleged that he stole a Nationwide bank card, used it at a number of places and withdrew a total of £5,610 in cash.

The final charge claims Mr Barnes contacted the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in February 2020 claiming to be Mr Coutts.

He is said to have stated that he was living in a caravan in England, had no access to the internet and no longer needed benefits.

Prosecutors claim this was to convince the DWP that Mr Coutts was still alive.

Mr Barnes has entered not guilty pleas to the charges. The trial, before judge Lord Mulholland, continues.