DUNDEE FC footballers Brent Sancho and Stephen McNally were yesterday cleared of assaulting a man during a city centre night out.
The jury delivered its majority verdicts after around an hours deliberation at the end of a trial at the sheriff court.
Trinidad and Tobago star Sancho (27) was found not guilty of an amended charge of assaulting Robert Paul McGregor and kicking him on the body in South Ward Road on November 24.
The jury, also by a majority, found McNally (20) not guilty of an amended charge of assaulting McGregor and punching him on the head.
After leaving the dock, Sancho described the experience as an absolute nightmare. He said, Im happy that its all over and want to put the whole thing behind me now and move on.
Ive been doing a bit of training early in the mornings and I just want to think about playing football.
McNally said he was relieved to get the case off his back after what he described as a difficult year.
He said, I was worried about what a conviction would meant to my football, and Im so relieved now.
What the guy said to Brent was not very nice at all, and from what I can remember all I did was defend my mate from racial abuse.
It had been suggested in court by Advocate Jonathan Crowe, for McNally, that Rangers star Nacho Novo, a former accused in the case, had perhaps wanted to shift the blame with his evidence.
But McNally said, I went to the police voluntarily and I just told them the truth. I cant fault Nacho at all. I think what he said must just have been mistaken.
The sheriff court earlier heard that Sancho and McNally had been on a night out on November 24 along with Rangers striker and former team-mate Novo.
Novo had told the court he had heard McGregor call Sancho a black bastard during the argument.
The former Dundee man also said he could see McNally throwing a punch on CCTV footage.
During closing speeches yesterday, prosecutor Donna Brown asked the jury to consider whether Sancho and McNally had acted with the common criminal purpose of assaulting Mr McGregor.
She added that Sancho had taken the law into his own hands when he should have dealt with the situation in another way.
The fiscal said that McNally had been identified by Novo and a police officer as throwing the punch at Mr McGregor.
Solicitor advocate James Laverty, acting for Sancho, told the court that McGregors evidence was terrible.
It is a lot of rubbish from a racist, bigoted liar, he said.
Mr Crowe said nobody had seen McNally punch McGregor at the time of the incident.
He suggested that Novo could have had an ulterior motive for saying that he saw McNally punch McGregor on the CCTV footage.
He (Novo) was a former accused in this case and you may feel that he had a different agenda for pointing to Mr McNally, he said.
Maybe he is trying to shift the blame.
In a statement released late yesterday, Dundee FC said they were pleased and relieved that their players had been found not guilty.
However, the club also expressed concerns about negative publicity over the past few months that was subsequently found to be unwarranted.
Manager Jim Duffy said, Footballers are in a very privileged position and are also constantly in the public eye.
That can mean that others sometimes rush to judgment before all the facts are known.
Everyone at Dens is very pleased for Brent and Stephen and relieved that this matter is over and that we can all concentrate on the vital derby match this Saturday.