RANGERS STAR Nacho Novo told a jury trial at Dundee Sheriff Court yesterday how he attempted to intervene when a man "hurled racial abuse" at one of his former Dundee FC clubmates outside a nightclub in the city last November.
Novo (25) was giving evidence at the trial of Dundee players Brent Sancho and Stephen McNaughton McNally before Sheriff Duff and a jury.
Sancho (27), whose address was given as c/o Muir Myles Laverty, Bell Street, Dundee, and McNally (24), The Cedars, Dundee, deny the indictment that on November 24 last year in South Ward Road they assaulted Robert Paul McGregor, c/o Tayside police, by butting him on the face, knocking him to the ground and repeatedly punching and kicking him on the head and body to his severe injury.
McNally has lodged a special defence of self-defence, stating that if he did assault Mr McGregor, he was acting in defence of Sancho, he having been assaulted by Mr McGregor.
Giving evidence under his full name of Ignacio Javier Gomez Novo and speaking with the assistance of an interpreter, Mr Novo told the court that he and a number of team-mates including Sancho and McNally were socialising that night and had visited a number of pubs before going to the Fat Sam’s nightclub in South Ward Road.
They left when the club closed and called for taxis, and were standing in South Ward Road when a taxi approached and stopped, whereupon Sancho had opened the door and got into the front seat.
Mr Novo said he had then noticed two men who “looked as if they had had a bit” approach the taxi, one of them opening the door, taking hold of Sancho and attempting to pull him out, he said.
“Brent got out of the cab and kept saying ‘What did you call me’ and I tried to intervene at that point,” he said.
Mr Novo said he could not remember perfectly all that was said, but that he had “heard a man say to Brent ‘you’re a black bastard’.”
He intervened because, “Brent was a team-mate and I wanted to defend him.”
Mr Novo added he thought Sancho was nervous and that he personally did not want it to escalate into a fight.
Asked by depute fiscal Donna Brown why he thought Sancho was nervous, Mr Novo said he would have been nervous as well “if I had got into a taxi and some guy opened the door and hurled racial abuse at me.”
Mr Novo told the court he had tried to intervene with the two men but that they laughed at him and “were just hurling insults.”
Studying CCTV footage of the incident in court Mr Novo identified McNally as the man throwing a punch at one man, and also agreed Sancho had attempted to kick the “smaller of the two men” when he was sitting in the taxi.
Earlier, PC John Bowman told the court he had been called to an incident at South Ward Road at around 3 am on November 24.
He had later viewed the CCTV footage at the control centre and charged Sancho.
Answering questions from depute fiscal Donna Brown as the tape of the footage played to the court, PC Bowman said it appeared Sancho had entered the taxi and then had become involved in a confrontation with Mr McGregor.
The footage had shown Mr McGregor being punched and falling to the ground and later showed Sancho being restrained by other people but returning to the scene of the confrontation and aiming a kick into the open passenger door of the taxi.
PC Bowman said he spoke to several people at the scene and led three men into custody, including Sancho and Ian Young and a third man who had given his name as Nacho Novo.
PC Bowman added that after further review of the footage he charged Sancho with punching and kicking Mr McGregor, to which the accused replied only that he understood.
The constable also agreed when cross-examined by James Laverty, for Sancho, that it was clear Sancho had been seated in the taxi when Mr McGregor approached him and it was also clear that Mr McGregor had instigated the confrontation.
PC Bowman further agreed that he could only say it appeared Sancho had kicked Mr McGregor when Mr McGregor had been seated in the taxi, and he thought it had struck on the upper part of the body.
Questioned by advocate Jonathan Crowe, for McNally, PC Bowman said he was certain that the man who had thrown the punch at Mr McGregor had been a man wearing a short-sleeved white shirt.
The trial continues today.