Horror in the hot tub


Horror In The Hot Tub was headlines in all the Scottish newspapers, Shaun Alexander swore to Adele on his son’s life that he knew nothing about the killings.

There was a 15-year age-gap — she was 17 and Shaun was 32 — and he had a record of violence, but when they got together in the summer of 2000 and moved into a flat in Fife, Scotland, Adele saw another side of Shaun Alexander.

"He was really gentle and kind and suffered agonies over the fact that his ex-wife Nicola wouldn't let him see his four-year-old son Taylor," Adele said.

"We had been together three months and he said he really liked having a settled home with someone who loved him. And to me he was my perfect man. He was a joker and a charmer and I'd never had such fun with anyone.  "I hoped that one day we could marry and have children of our own. I knew Shaun would be a great dad. To me life was like a dream come true."

But in October 2000 the dream began to turn into a nightmare. It began one evening when Adele's father, James, rang to say he would like to call round at the flat for a chat.

"I asked Shaun if he would mind popping out for an hour while my dad was here," Adele remembered. "My father refused to accept Shaun and I reckoned it was better to keep them apart for now.

"When I  suggested it I could see Shaun was angry. He didn't see why he should have to leave his own home on a cold wet evening. He asked my why I didn't stand up to my parents? Was I ashamed of being with him?

"Eventually he calmed down and said he would go and have a drink with a friend and be back in about an hour. In fact he didn't come back until the following morning.

"Shaun said he had too much to drink and had slept it off at his friend's house. We didn't mention the disagreement we'd had over my dad and everything seemed fine. It was only later that I realised the importance of those missing hours."

Adele knew that Nicola had been the love of Shaun's life and that when she had filed for divorce six months earlier he had been devastated. But he was now getting over the loss. "I don't think about Nicola any more," he told Adele. "I'm still upset about Taylor. She has no right to stop me seeing him.

"I'm building a new life with you and won't ever see Nicola again." He was speaking the truth because at that moment Nicola Alexander was dead. She had been murdered, along with her new lover in a hot tub in her boyfriend's garden.    

Next day, when Horror In The Hot Tub was headlines in all the Scottish newspapers, Shaun Alexander swore to Adele on his son's life that he knew nothing about the killings. He had in fact been with a friend during the fatal hours and had a cast-iron alibi.

But when police arrived to check out his alibi, Shaun Alexander had disappeared. As over 100 officers searched eastern Scotland for his grey Volvo car, Adele's mobile rang. It was Shaun.

"I don't have long," he told her. "I just want you to know that I love you and that I am innocent of the killings. I just want you to believe that." Then he rang off.

The following day police found Shaun Alexander hiding in a disused farm near Perth. He was arrested and, still claiming his innocence, was  charged with double murder.

He told detectives: "I know that doing a runner would put me in the frame, but I just needed time to think. I know it looks bad for me, but things aren't what they seem."

They weren't. A week later, Shaun Alexander confessed to the murder of his ex-wife and her boyfriend, and Adele Kettrick's world collapsed around her.

The news came in a mobile phone call from Perth jail and began: "I've done something stupid and I'm going to jail ... I just want to explain." Adele listened in silence as he said: "I never meant to hurt them. It was an accident. You have to believe me."

Six months later, sitting in the public gallery at Edinburgh High Court, Adele discovered that her whole life with Shaun had been a sham. He hadn't loved her. He was still obsessively in love with Nicola. Indeed he thought of little else.

He stalked her day and night to the point where she had been forced to take out a court ban to keep him away from her home, but he persistently ignored it.

When Shaun Alexander told Adele he was at work or drinking with friends, he was hanging around his ex-wife's house, with vengeance in his heart, insanely jealous of any men  she saw.

According to prosecutor David Young, Nicola had met 42-year-old Kevin Braid about three weeks before the fatal attack. Shaun Alexander constantly followed them around, stalking his ex-wife to her place of work and to the college where she was studying.The prosecution alleged that on the night he had left Adele's house, claiming that he was going  for a drink with a friend, Alexander had in fact gone round to Kevin Braid's house armed with a crowbar and a knife.

He had found Kevin and Nicola, together with their friend Barry Grieg and his girlfriend Claire Richie, in a hot tub Kevin had installed in his back garden. "When he heard laughter and light-hearted conversation, Alexander was full of jealous rage," David Young told the court.

He described the horrific scene when Alexander had lunged out of the darkness with a knife, screaming that if he couldn't have Nicola, no one else would.

Barry and Claire jumped from the hot tub. Claire escaped but Barry was slashed on the head and body, disfiguring him for life. Alexander then went after Kevin Braid, hitting him with the crowbar and stabbing him in the chest. He bled to death before medical help arrived.

By now Nicola had also left the hot tub and was trying to escape up the drive. Alexander ran after her, caught her and stabbed her eight times. She died almost instantly in a pool of blood.

In a confession, Shaun Alexander said  that after the killings he drove off in his car "to think about what to do." He had spent the night driving around the area and had returned to Adele's the following morning. He had spoken to a friend who at first agreed to give him an alibi for the previous evening but later refused. In his defence, Alexander had maintained the killings were accidental, to which prosecutor David Young replied: "How could chasing someone and stabbing them eight times be an accident?"

After he changed his plea to guilty, Shaun Alexander was jailed for 17 years. The judge, Lady Smith, told him that had he not changed his plea he would have been jailed for 24 years, but there were shouts from the public benches that the sentence was far too lenient. Kevin Braid's father said: "We don't want this man back on the streets after 17 years. It is shocking and disgusting what he has done. He has devastated two families. The law in this case is a joke. Life should mean life."

After the case, Alexander sent Adele Kettrick a letter asking for forgiveness and saying: "If you meet someone they better look after you like I wanted to." But Adele has no intention of forgiving the man she once loved.
She says: "No one could forgive him for what he did. He has robbed children of their parents, including the little boy he said he loved more than life itself.

"I just want to get on with life and to forget him. By the time he's a free man I shall be a long way from here. Only then will I ever feel really safe."  

Willard Roper/Tony James Features

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