A WEE COUNTY man has claimed he was coerced into taking the blame for deliberately setting fire to a house in Dollar.

John Mitchell, 76, handed in a note to Alloa Police Station claiming responsibility for the blaze, but he told the High Court in Glasgow this week that his granddaughter would have been harmed if he hadn't.

He also denies being the one who sent a menacing letter to Nicola Sturgeon threatening to blow up the Scottish Parliament with a pipe bomb.

The Tullibody man was giving evidence at the trial of Joshua Rosenberg, who is accused of attempting to extort up to £95,000 from the landlords of the house he was renting in Strachan Crescent, Dollar, and then setting fire to it on February 20, 2015.

Prosecutors also allege Rosenberg, now of Kinfauns, Perthshire, was the one who sent the letter to Ms Sturgeon in February 2018 and did so in a bid to blame Mr Mitchell for the house fire and falsely accuse him of criminal conduct.

The trial began on Monday and jurors heard that on March 29, 2015 Mr Mitchell went to Alloa Police Station and handed in a letter confessing to setting the Clacks property alight.

Mr Mitchell told the court: “I handed it in on the instructions of Joshua Rosenberg.”

"At first I refused to do it and he said he would improve the looks of my granddaughter.”

Mr Cameron, prosecuting, then asked what he thought Rosenberg meant by that statement.

Mr Mitchell replied: "Disfigure her face. I feared for my granddaughter's safety.”

The witness continued: “I was offered £150,000 by Joshua Rosenberg if I would take the blame.

"If I agreed to do time for him I would only get about three years because I was 72 at the time.”

Rosenberg, 43, denies all the charges against him, which are alleged to have taken place between December 2014 and June 2018.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the typed letter which appeared to be signed by Mr Mitchell had arrived at the Scottish Parliament on February 20, 2018.

It was addressed to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and stated: “When you receive this I will already be dead. And I give my life willingly to prove how I should not be forgotten.

"I will have detonated a pipe bomb with metal ball bearings, coins and my keys I made myself out of an old fire extinguisher.

”I'm going to take out the Scottish Parliament's main chamber tomorrow or the day after and I hope to take as many MSPs as I can with me to the grave.”

The letter refers to him becoming "Scotland's first domestic terrorist” and ends: “Hail ISIS, hail Hitler, Hail Donald Trump.”

The jury heard the note also contained a reference to Mr Mitchell coming to the High Court for Rosenberg's trial and stated: “I set fire to his house and I'm proud that I got away with it for years.

"I had great fun telling police that Joshua had threatened me to do it and had threatened my granddaughter.”

When asked if he had set fire to the house, Mr Mitchell said: “No.”

The court heard that Mr Mitchell stood for the Scottish Parliament in 2011 for the Scottish Homeland Party and Rosenberg was his election agent. They polled three per cent of the vote.

Defence QC Gordon Jackson asked Mr Mitchell: “Are you suggesting someone else signed this,” and he replied: “Somebody has copied my signature.”

Mr Jackson then said: “You say you were offered £150,000 did you tell the police that,” and the witness replied: “I can't remember.”

|The trial before Lord Beckett continues.