A CARDENDEN man murdered an army veteran for “financial gain” and then left his body to decompose for a year in an abandoned industrial unit.

David Barnes killed Ean Coutts, 60, on September 3 2019 and tried to cover it up by hatching an “elaborate scheme” which saw him removing the body from the victim's home on Main Street in Kinglassie in a wheelie bin.

He then drove to a unit at Whitehill industrial estate in Glenrothes, left the body in a cupboard and attempted to set fire to the remains.

During the murder trial, the High Court in Edinburgh heard that Barnes, 33, then assumed Mr Coutts’s identity and helped himself to more than £5,000 of his victim’s money.

Central Fife Times: Ean Coutts, of Kinglassie, was murdered by David Barnes. Ean Coutts, of Kinglassie, was murdered by David Barnes. (Image: Police Scotland)

Mr Coutts’s skeletal remains were discovered by an urban explorer in September 2020, causing police to launch an investigation.

It took facial reconstruction to identify the dead man.

In court this week Barnes was found guilty of murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Lord Mulholland remanded him in custody ahead of sentencing next month and called for background reports.

He made reference to how Barnes told lies to neighbours about how Mr Coutts had gone on holiday and had moved to England in the time after he disappeared.

The judge said: “You murdered a man who was going about his daily business and you murdered this man for financial gain.

“Having murdered him you embarked upon an elaborate scheme to hide this murder.

“Your pack of lies unravelled. What you did was despicable.”

Central Fife Times: David Barnes was found guilty of murder at the High Court in Edinburgh.David Barnes was found guilty of murder at the High Court in Edinburgh. (Image: Matthew Donnelly)

On the first day of the trial James Fenton, 37 said he was looking around a unit at the industrial estate 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.

During the police investigation they discovered that Barnes had been working at Mr Coutts’s home, carrying out renovations there.

One of Mr Coutts' neighbours, Kevin O'Donoghue, said he saw a workman put a wheelie bin into a silver Volkswagen Golf car before driving away.

He told the court that he texted Mr Coutts the following day to ask him why the workman had taken his bin which he thought had been filled with “rubble” and “bricks”.

Mr O’Donoghue said the workman later told him that his neighbour had moved away as he owed “a lot of money”.

In court the witness added: “I joked that I hoped it wasn’t Ean in the bin as he was struggling to move it but that was a joke.”

Prosecutor Alex Prentice KC said the cause of death was unascertainable because of the condition of the body when it was discovered, although there was evidence of charring to bones.

He added: “David Barnes assumed the identity of Ean Coutts and proceeded to help himself to his money and pretended to be him to acquire goods and services.

“How would he be able to do that unless he knew Ean Coutts was dead.”

Jurors agreed and found him guilty.

Barnes will be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow on December 13.

Detective Inspector Scott Roxburgh said: “This was a long and complex enquiry and I want to thank everyone involved.

“Barnes acted in a callous manner, killing Ian and then pretending to be the dead man.

"He disposed of the body in a horrific way, even setting fire to it to try to dispose of the remains, leaving it in an inaccessible place so that it was only by chance it was found.

“It took a facial reconstruction for us to be able to identify Ean and I hope the court result brings some kind of closure for his family and those who knew him.”