Soccer player jailed for foul play
Thursday 12 October 1995
Duncan Ferguson, the controversial Scotland international footballer, yesterday began a three-month jail sentence after losing his appeal against sentence for butting a rival player.
He is the first British international player to be jailed for assaulting a fellow professional on the field of play.
The 23-year-old, who now plays in England for Everton, was told that incidents of violence in sport could not be ignored by the courts. He also has two previous convictions for assault, one for breach of the peace and one for drink-driving.
Ferguson was appearing before the Supreme Court in Edinburgh to appeal against the sentence, but not the conviction, that had been imposed by a sheriff earlier this year.
Despite pleas from Everton, and his former employer, Rangers, Lord Hope, the Lord Justice General of Scotland, said the original three-month term could not be ruled "excessive".
Sitting with two other judges he called it a "tragic case", but added: "We have reached the view that we would not be justified in interfering with this sentence."
Ferguson was on probation at the time of the incident in a Scottish Premiership match at Ibrox Park, the home of Glasgow Rangers, in April last year. He butted opposing full-back John McStay of Raith Rovers, leaving him with a cut lip.
Ferguson was neither sent off nor cautioned for the assault by the match referee. However, the Scottish Football Association took action after viewing a video recording of the assault.
John Mitchell, QC, for the defence, said his client realised his actions had been wrong and now "bitterly regretted the incident".
Outside the court Ferguson's solicitor, Blair Morgan, said: "There is no further appeal. That is it, that was the final appeal. I spoke to Duncan afterwards. He did not say very much. He had expected the worst and I think that was good preparation."
As Ferguson was taken away by prison van to Glasgow's Barlinnie jail, his club said he was the victim of a "witch-hunt". Everton manager Joe Royle attacked the decision as "incredible", adding: "We are all amazed and stunned and can't really believe, in a society that seems dedicated to keeping people out of prison, that we are putting away a young man who is in a good job and is no danger to society."
Everton would give him its "fullest support" and Ferguson would remain a hero to the Merseyside club, the manager said. "Anyone who knows him will tell you he is a very pleasant young man. He is no bad lad at all. He has been guilty sometimes of stupidity, but mostly immaturity. We all see events on football pitches every week and they are a lot worse than what Duncan now finds himself imprisoned with hardened criminals for," added Royle.
Ferguson's first brush with the law came in February 1991 when he was fined for butting a police officer. A second assault followed two years later when the player was involved in an incident in Edinburgh, striking a man who was on crutches. That also resulted in a fine but less than a year later he was again before the sheriff on an assault charge.
In April this year Ferguson was convicted for the latest incident. Sentence was then adjourned to allow reports to be compiled before he was given a three-month jail term.
Grobbelaar in court, page 3
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...