August 2022

Scots brute who strangled ex-partners including mum of his little girl found guilty of attempted murder

A violent brute who strangled former partners has been convicted of three counts of attempted murder.

Malcolm ‘Malky’ McDougal had denied restricting the women’s breathing to their injury and to the danger of their lives in a campaign of domestic abuse spanning nine years.

A jury of 14 at the high Court in Livingston heard disturbing evidence of his brutal, behind-closed-doors assaults, which included punching and kicking his terrified victims before grabbing them by the throat and choking them by applying pressure until they passed out.

McDougal, 43, ironically a former lifeguard, claimed in his own defence that the three women he tried to kill all knew each other and had conspired to get him convicted by lying in court.

However, he admitted that he had already served a number of prison sentences and had numerous previous convictions for domestic violence, public disorder and bail offences.

Jurors rejected his claim that he was innocent and took five hours to return three unanimous verdicts and three majority verdicts finding him guilty.

In addition to being found guilty of attempting to murder three women, McDougal was convicted of assaulting two other former partners and one victim’s brother.

One victim, 37, gave evidence of a tumultuous relationship. She told how he attacked her at addresses in West Lothian, between June 2011 and May 2013, repeatedly punching her, kicking her and seizing her by the throat and strangling her.

A witness warrant was issued for her arrest after she failed to attend court and she was subsequently sentenced to two weeks in prison for contempt.

Another woman, 33, told how he had strangled her twice during their abusive relationship, the second time using both hands.

She said: “He just grabbed me by the throat in the living room and strangled me so hard that I lost consciousness. He was pushing right down so that I couldn’t breathe at all. I would say (for) more than a minute for me to lose consciousness.”

She went on: “He grabbed me by the throat to silence me. He was screaming in my face ‘Just shut up!’ I was flat on my back – terrified. When you’re losing consciousness it’s a weird feeling. Everything goes fuzzy and quiet. It’s a surreal feeling and I remember thinking I was going to die.”

She added that she had “a lot of black marks” around her neck afterwards.

Another victim, 24, told how a “red mist” came over McDougal and his eyes went “a bit crazy” as he attempted to murder her. She said he repeatedly choked her and restricted her breathing during an affair which lasted nearly two years.

She said: “The first time that he attacked me it was just strangling involved and a little bit of slapping around the face. He placed his two hands on my neck – he used to say it would only take five minutes to kill someone by strangling – and continued to squeeze.

“It felt like the longest couple of minutes of my life. I struggled and said: ‘Get off me! I can’t breathe!’ I sort of just blacked out, almost as if I wasn’t there any more. I recall the feeling afterwards and the pain, a reminder of the way he would squeeze.”

Asked how she felt when she came back round, she said: “Sort of dizzy, dazed. I just walked away from the situation.”

She also gave evidence that McDougal threw her into a shower tray and put his foot on her throat until she was struggling for breath. She said he grabbed her by the hair and held her head under cold water for five minutes.

She said: “He was calling me a dirty sl*t because he’d accused me of cheating on him. He was drunk. He’d drunk two bottles of cider – six litres in total.”

She also told how McDougal would also bite her and spit on her and often burned her leg with a cigarette lighter.

Following the jury’s verdicts, advocate depute Jonathan Campbell moved for sentence and submitted victim impact statements from the three attempted murder victims. He also asked the court to consider imposing non harassment orders banning the accused from contacting his ex-partners.

Judge Alison Stirling said she wanted a criminal justice social work report into McDougal’s background before passing sentence at Edinburgh High Court on 6 September. She continued the NHO applications until then.

The accused, who has been in custody since March 18, 2021, showed no emotion as he was handcuffed and led to the cells.