Former Fettes College teacher ‘targeted by thieves’ before alleged murder

A “frail” retired teacher is said to have been targeted by thieves he met online shortly before he was allegedly killed in a flat in Edinburgh and his body dumped, a murder trial heard.

Paul Black, 65, is accused of murdering Peter Coshan, a former Fettes College biology teacher, at his flat in Leith on August 11 or 12 2022, before allegedly dumping his body near a layby in Northumberland.

He denies murdering the 75-year-old, and has also pleaded not guilty to a string of other charges.

High Court in Edinburgh
Paul Black is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh (PA)

He is then alleged to have concealed the body in the Edinburgh area for a number of days before putting it in a stolen suitcase and driving it to a layby on the A696 between Otterburn and Belsay in Northumberland.

Charges allege that after attempting to dig a grave, he dumped the body next to a wall, disposed of the suitcase, and attempted to dispose of clothing and other items belonging to Mr Coshan.

Giving evidence in court, Ross Cook, who attended Fettes College in the 1970s while Mr Coshan was teaching there and saw him “quite regularly” in the years before he died, said the 75-year-old had been targeted by thieves in the months before he was killed.

He said that at one meeting in 2022 Mr Coshan, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, told him he been having IT problems.

Mr Cook said: “He had allowed a friend or associate to try and sort out the problem for him, and that person had moved some money he had inherited since his mother’s death to an accessible account.”

Mr Ross added: “He didn’t tell me the name or anything but I’m pretty sure he had met that person on the dating site Silver Daddies.”

He said he advised his former teacher to break off contact with the individual, but that in June 2022 Mr Coshan, who lived alone, told him he had met him again, which, Mr Ross said, was “very foolish” as the man had attempted to steal from him previously.

Black has denied stealing a total of £50,000 from Mr Coshan between September 2021 and June 2022.

The court also heard evidence from two of Mr Coshan’s former colleagues at Fettes College, who said he had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for around five years prior to his death.

Elizabeth Thomson, who had worked in the English and drama department at the college, described Mr Coshan as “frail”.

She added: “His mobility had been affected a good deal. He found it difficult to move at any speed in a secure fashion and it was obvious when you were speaking to him that his face had become immobile, which is one of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

“His ability to communicate had been considerably reduced, he spoke very very softly because he couldn’t get any power behind his voice any more.”

She said she last saw Mr Coshan alive on at 10.15pm on August 11 2022 when she dropped him off at his flat after a trip to the cinema.

The court earlier heard that Mr Coshan had called a taxi to take him to the Seafield Road address at around 11.30pm on August 11 2022, and arrived there shortly before midnight.

Charges allege in the days after the killing, Black made numerous cash withdrawals from Mr Coshan’s bank account, and used his bank cards to make a number of purchases.

These allegations include buying a £860 Tag Heuer watch and £4,300 worth of euros from Ramsdens pawnbrokers in Leith on the morning of August 12.

Black is also accused of using Mr Coshan’s cards on August 13 to take out two car insurance policies, with one policy being for the Vauxhall Vectra car he is alleged to have used to transport Mr Coshan’s body to Northumberland.

Black, who appeared in court dressed in a white T-shirt and blue tracksuit top, has pleaded not guilty to all 18 charges.

The trial continues.

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