Gun death pensioner was a victim of teen abuse rumour

A PENSIONER shot dead with an airgun was at the centre of apparently unfounded rumours he molested a teenage girl.

Thomas Nicoll, 72, was attacked at his home in Winchburgh and died from a gunshot wound to the head on Sunday.

It is understood police were aware of the allegations against Mr Nicoll but had not investigated the claims.

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The small community remained in shock today following the shooting.

One woman told how she locked her family indoors when she heard there had been a shooting just streets away from where she lived in the quiet village.

A police guard remained at Mr Nicoll's home while his wife went to stay with relatives. His daughter Tina, who lives nearby, was too upset to talk.

One woman who used to live opposite Mr Nicoll described him as a gentleman. She said: "That man was a decent honest man. He was a gentleman, he would never hurt a fly. You couldn't meet a nicer man. He didn't deserve this."

Floral tributes were today laid outside the home he shared with his wife on Bell's Mill Terrace. One read: "You will always be a good friend Tam. Sorry you had to go this way."

Another read: "Couldn't believe it when we heard. You were a good man. We will always remember the dancing at our wedding."

Another tribute was signed "Love Wee Molly" and attached to a teddybear.

Mr Nicoll lived in the village with wife Anne. The grandfather-of-three, who worked part-time at McDonald's, was well-known in the area, where he had lived for around five years.

He had two dogs which he often walked around the village.

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He used to work as a farm worker on the Hopetoun Estates in Broxburn, West Lothian, until retiring around eight years ago.

His wife is believed to have worked as a manager at McDonald's, and Mr Nicol started his part-time job there after retiring, first at the Newbridge branch, near Edinburgh, and then in Livingston.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's said: "Everyone in the restaurant is totally devastated at what has happened. Mr Nicol worked as a part-time door greeter. He was always interacting with the customers and was a friendly face."

She added: "He was a father figure to both our staff and our customers and he will be sadly missed."

A committee member of Winchburgh Bowling Club said Tam and his wife had been members for two or three years.

He said: "We were all shocked when we heard.

"He joined with his wife. They liked to have the odd game. They were well-liked, but quite quiet and usually kept to themselves. I remember him at some of the Christmas parties."

A 17-year-old male has been arrested and was expected to appear in Linlithgow Sheriff Court today in connection with the death.