A MAN accused of conducting a years-long campaign of domestic abuse against his critically ill wife has given evidence to a Greenock court.

Russell Laing, 51, is charged with behaving in a threatening or abusive manner towards the woman – a senior Police Scotland detective currently seconded to Interpol in France – in Inverclyde and elsewhere between May 2015 and March 2019.

He also faces allegations of engaging in a course of conduct which was abusive of his wife between April 2019 and May 2020.

It is alleged that Laing, of Bridge of Weir, acted in an aggressive manner towards the complainer on several occasions, accessed her private email, demanded she justify her spending, and uttered derogatory comments to her.

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Prosecutors say he also repeatedly restricted access to the family pet, cancelled her medical insurance without notice, and drove past a house where she was residing in an attempt to monitor her movements.

Earlier this year, Sheriff James Varney heard evidence from Laing’s wife and relatives.

His wife – who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 – says he used a £40,000 critical illness payment to clear his gambling debts and told her she ‘hadn’t supported him enough’ following her diagnosis.

The trial, which started in January, continued at Greenock Sheriff Court on Thursday, with Laing giving evidence.

He was asked about an occasion in May 2015 when his wife had travelled to Wales with her family for a ‘girls’ weekend’.

The trial previously heard evidence that Laing later turned up ‘uninvited’.

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The accused told the court that he drove down to bring his wife an overnight bag as she had been working away and did not have time to come home before leaving for Wales.

He added: “The atmosphere was a bit frosty.

“I think her mum, aunt and sister weren’t too happy that I went there. I could sense that I was not welcome.”

At a previous calling of the case, Laing’s wife described an occasion when he allegedly acted in an aggressive manner following a joke made at a household gathering which suggested she ‘could have been a Rangers WAG’.

She said her husband was ‘raging’ and left the room to sit on the stairs with his head in his hands, rocking back and forth ‘a bit like a madman’.

Laing denied this, saying: “I went back to the kitchen and I think I organised more drinks.

"It pretty much carried on as the afternoon had been going already.”

READ MORE: Domestic abuse trial hears evidence from complainer's family

Laing’s wife eventually left the marital home in January 2019, but he said he thought they would ‘sort things out’.

Regarding allegations that he accessed her email without permission later that month, Laing told the court that the pair ‘pretty much’ had access to all of each other’s accounts and devices – with the exception of his wife’s work phone.

He said: “We’ve got a flat rental business and at the end of January I was doing the tax return.

“I had been through Paula’s email to print out the letting agent’s statements and I came across an email accepting an application for a job. It was something to do with Europol.

“I phoned Paula. It was a very difficult conversation.”

Laing was also asked about an occasion when he contacted his wife and ‘demanded’ that she justify spending after she made a cash withdrawal of £200 at Glasgow Airport.

He said: “Usually when she was away for work, she would use her department’s credit card.

“I didn’t know if she was away or not. It was just a bit unusual.”

The trial was adjourned part-heard until December 11, when Laing will continue giving evidence before Sheriff Varney.