A man confessed to murdering a woman with a hammer in a shocking phone call to his former employer, a jury heard today.

Panel beater Paul Smith, 36, said he honestly couldn’t believe what he was hearing from Aaron Donald at first.

In a dramatic day of evidence at the Claire Turnbull murder trial at the High Court in Livingston, Mr Smith told how Donald called him on Friday October 5 last year while he was enjoying an after work drink.

He said: “Basically he was telling me he’d done something real bad, something a bit crazy.

“He told me he’d killed a woman. I said ‘Are you sure she’s dead?’ “He said: ‘Oh aye. She’s dead. I hit her a number of times with a hammer and there’s brain matter everywhere.’”

At this point 36-year-old Claire’s mum Heather, who had been quietly sobbing on the public benches throughout his evidence, shouted: "Oh you bastard!" at Donald and was hurriedly taken out of court by a female police officer.

In her absence the witness said he had the phone on loudspeaker: “He said (he hit her) seven, eight, nine times, round about that.”

Donald, 28, and his co-accused Laura McMurdo, 30, both of Blairhall, are accused of murdering Claire at a flat in Blairhall and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by hiding a hammer believed to be the murder weapon and giving police false information.

They deny the charges and Donald has lodged special defences claiming he could not be held criminally responsible because he was suffering from a mental disorder and diminished responsibility at the time of the killing.

Giving evidence on the third day of their trial, Mr Smith revealed he’d seen the accused in Dunfermline previously with a girl with blonde hair who wasn’t his girlfriend and asked the accused asked what colour of hair the dead woman had.

He said: “He shouted: ‘Laura, what colour of hair did this lassie have before I done this to her?’ It was Laura who said: ‘I think she was blonde'.

“But I take it she (Claire) was in that much of a mess he didn’t even know what colour the lassie’s hair was."

Mr Smith went on: “He says: ‘Don’t think bad of me just because it was a woman, whatever the f**k – excuse the language – whatever that means.

“I’m sure I did ask why did this happen. He said she disrespected him. You treat that with a wee slap not by hitting them with a hammer.

“He sounded calm. To be honest, like he didn’t give a s***.

“He described (it) in detail to me, that makes him really aware.”

He said in his police statement: “Aaron told me that the girl had tried it on with Laura and tried touching her and then he said: ‘I lost it and battered her to death’.”

He confirmed that he had told police that Donald had used the exact phrase: “I murdered her”.

He also repeated what Donald had told him about another couple coming to the flat in Blairhall, a male and a female, and that the male had left, leaving just Laura, Aaron and “the lassie”.

Mr Smith said Donald then told him he wanted to “escape” and hide for a while.

He told police: “Aaron began asking me what he should do and that he was planning on running away. He had to get away for a couple of days.”

Under cross examination by Donald’s defence counsel, Bert Kerrigan QC, Mr Smith said he knew about his worker’s mental problems and that his father was taking him to a psychiatrist.

Asked if Donald seemed panicky he replied: “I’ve never seen Aaron panic.”

Earlier, Mary Smith, 32, told how she saw two women at Dunfermline bus station earlier on the day Claire died.

She said they were walking together laughing and joking.

She added: “The two girls had a kiss or something like that, but I wasn’t really paying that much attention. I just turned my head away.

“The next day on Facebook I recognised the girl’s face, the girl that died.”

She agreed she had told police in a statement that she had seen Claire and the other woman “kiss each other”.

She said: “It was a sexual kiss and on the lips. The kiss only lasted a split second and they both laughed.

“I never considered if they were together or not. I just thought it looked like they were having a laugh.

“They both kissed each other with open mouths and neither looked upset by the other’s actions.”

Paulo Skawinski, 35, a joiner who lived near the flat in Rintoul Avenue where Claire’s body was found in a pool of blood, said he heard noises on the evening she died.

He said: “There was lots of laughing, positive voices, coming from the direction of number 16. They were having a good time at first.

“It was followed by three loud, hollow bangs – a fist on a table kind of noise – which turned into a person shouting. After that shouting (there was) arguing type of shouting from more than one person." 

The trial, before Lady Scott, continues.