Express & Star

Retired Fettes College teacher was lured to his death, killer tells court

Paul McNaughton, who pleaded guilty last year to murdering Peter Coshan, was giving evidence at the trial of Paul Black.

Last updated
Edinburgh High Court

A retired Fettes College teacher was lured to his death after being catfished on a gay dating app by a man who stole thousands of pounds from him and spent it on a trip to Blackpool, a court heard.

Peter Coshan, 75, a retired biology teacher, was reported missing by friends in August 2022 and his younger lover, Paul McNaughton, 29, pleaded guilty last year to murder and perverting the course of justice.

Paul Black, 65, is on trial at the High Court in Edinburgh where he denies murder and 17 other charges including stealing a total of £50,000 from Mr Coshan between September 2021 and June 2022, and disposing of his body in Northumberland.

Giving evidence, McNaughton told the court how he and Black planned to murder Mr Coshan.

McNaughton claimed the killing was done by Black but his version of events was questioned by both prosecution and defence who suggested he was trying to minimise his involvement.

Peter Coshan death
The body of Peter Coshan was found in Northumberland in September 2022 (Police Scotland/PA)

McNaughton said: “Both of us decided something was going to happen when he came through the front door, he was going to be suffocated with a plastic bag put over his head.”

He claimed Black put a bag over Mr Coshan’s head to suffocate him and lay on top of his body, while McNaughton drank a Jack Daniels on the sofa and smoked a joint before the pair went for a walk and withdrew cash as well as letting themselves into the victim’s house and going to McDonald’s before continuing on a spending spree the next day.

McNaughton told the court he was “fed up” with messages from Mr Coshan and set up a profile on Gaydar on July 26 2022, using a picture of “random off the internet” and claimed it was planned “a couple of days before Peter was murdered”.

He added: “We had decided to get Peter to come to Paul’s house then we were going to do it.

“I was fed up with having to keep doing sexual favours and not getting anything from it.

“There were text messages on my phone which the police have got, saying I had to do sexual favours for a year or he was going to go to police and say I’d stolen the money.”

McNaughton told the court he was living with Black – whom sometimes he referred to as Joe – for five or six months in 2022, before being arrested on suspicion of murder on August 16.

Appearing from custody in HMP Edinburgh, McNaughton said he moved in with Black as he struggled to find a landlord who would accept a dog and a cat, and that he slept in the living room on the sofa-bed of the one-bed, ground floor flat in Seafield Road, Leith.

McNaughton told the court he met Mr Coshan through Gaydar, which he described as a “hook-up app” around a year before, and said: “He offered me money for sexual favours.”

He said he gained access to Mr Coshan’s savings accounts without his knowledge, after finding handwritten bank details beside a computer and admitted knowing that £102,000 was in the accounts.

On September 2021, £8,000 was transferred from Mr Coshan’s bank account without his knowledge, and McNaughton told the court that Black spoke to the bank “because Joe sounds a lot older, so obviously he could speak to these people on the phone”.

Two days later, McNaughton transferred a total of £30,000 from Mr Coshan’s account, and said he went on a trip to Blackpool with Black, after the initial theft.

Advocate depute John Keenan KC said: “What happened to the £8,000?”

McNaughton said: “It got spent, by me and Paul Black. We went to Blackpool. Joe knew it came from Mr Coshan’s bank, because I had said to him.”

He added: “I think we were just talking about it then called up the bank to see if it would work and it did work, then Mr Black went into the bank to collect the money.

“We just spoke about it, we were sitting one morning having a coffee.”

McNaughton told the court when Mr Coshan realised the money was missing, he sent him a message, then blocked him and unblocked him.

The court heard that in June 2022, a further £15,000 and £17,000 were taken from Mr Coshan’s account without his knowledge.

McNaughton told the court when Mr Coshan realised, he demanded sexual favours for a year, in return.

Giving evidence, he said: “I received a text message from Peter. It said basically he knew I had took the money so he wasn’t giving me any more money for up to a year. He said he had to do sexual favours for a year to clear the money that was due to him.”

Mr Keenan said: “In any event, what you came to learn at that point was that Peter wasn’t going to give you any more money.”

McNaughton said: “No, he was still giving me money. He said he wasn’t giving me any more money, but he still did give me money.”

Prosecutor Mr Keenan told McNaughton he was trying to “play down (his) role” in the killing.

Under-cross examination from Black’s defence, Tony Lenehan, McNaughton was exposed as lying about previous custodial sentences for wilful fireraising and was accused of “taking advantage” of his flatmate, who was said to be “head-over-heels in love” with him.

Mr Lenehan added: “You are a self-serving and dishonest young man. You are the one who killed Peter Coshan.”

McNaughton said: “I didn’t put the bag over his head. I lured him to the property.”

It was put to McNaughton that he was in a better physical state to have carried out the killing because Black has limited mobility in his right arm, while he was told he “looks like a fit and healthy 29-year-old”.

The original indictment against McNaughton was shown to the jury, including 25 charges dropped in exchange for two guilty pleas.

Charges included threatening to set fire to a woman’s house with her child inside, on August 5 2022, threats to stab and threats to kill.

The court was shown a Facebook message sent by McNaughton to an associate showing him wearing a balaclava, with the message: “Bro tonight I do something I get £102k.”

Black’s defence said he only got “two bottles of Lucozade” from the killing while McNaughton was “free to say what happens to the cash”.

McNaughton said: “Two bottles of Lucozade aye right – more than that he got out of it.”

He added: “Joe was aware his bank account was being used and he agreed to it.”

The jury was shown a police interview with Black, who gave mostly “no comment” answers, but at one point said:  “I do appreciate that someone’s gone missing. I apologise to the family.”

The trial, before Judge Lord Scott, continues.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.