Lawyer attacks off-duty police on train in row over Cup final

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A Hibs-supporting lawyer who traveled to Scotland from America to watch his boyhood heroes lift the Scottish Cup attacked an off-duty police officer on board a train in a row about the match.

Stuart Gilgannon, who was born in Scotland but studied law in the United States, came back to Scotland to go to Saturday’s final at Hampden.

But he ended up in a war of words on board a train and ended up lashing out - then claimed he’d been provoked by the off-duty cop and a colleague.

The 34-year-old, who is originally from Edinburgh, was traveling to Paisley on Sunday night to visit his mother, who lives in the town.

Once on board the ScotRail service between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street, he got in to an argument with off duty police officers Robert Howat and Alison Taggart - and punched Howat in the face.

The details emerged today when Gilgannon appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court charged with attacking the off duty cops on yesterday.

Defence solicitor John Gardner struck a plea deal which saw Gilgannon plead guilty to assaulting one off duty cop, in exchange for a charge that he attacked the other officer being dropped.

Procurator fiscal depute Maureen McGovern told the court that Gilgannon, who lives in Wisconsin, had “come over here to watch a football match.”

She explained: “This incident took place on a train at 10.40pm between Glasgow and Paisley.

“The witnesses were having a conversation on the train which was interrupted by the accused, who made some impolite remarks, if I can put it that way.

“They told the accused he had gone way too far.

“The accused said, ‘I’m going to slap you’, and then proceeded to punch the witness on the right side of the face.

“It turns out the witness is an off duty police officer.

“The accused was restrained and the police were contacted.”

• READ MORE: SFA pledge independent commission to probe Cup final disorder

McGovern, prosecuting, said Gilgannon was arrested by officers who boarded the train at Paisley Gilmour Street Station and he was arrested.

He was taken to Glasgow’s Helen Street police station, where he was held in custody until today’s court appearance.

He was led in to the dock in handcuffs and pleaded guilty to assaulting Howat in exchange for a charge that he assaulted Taggart by lunging towards her and headbutting her body being dropped.

Defence solicitor John Gardner said Gilgannon had been provoked during banter about Hibs’ extra time victory over Rangers, which was marred by a pitch invasion.

The lawyer explained: “His take on the comments between him and the other parties differed from the Crown.

“The remarks were flowing from both sides and he believed they were more in jest than anything else.

“He feels the remarks towards him moved towards

“This gentleman is a practicing solicitor in Wisconsin, he studied in the US and owns his own law practice.

“We discussed whether this would have caused a problem for him professionally but he doesn’t believe it will.

“He is just keen to put all this behind him and is in a position to pay a financial penalty.”

After hearing that Gilgannon is married with two children and had missed his flight back to the States, Sheriff Robert Fife spared him jail.

He could have caged Gilgannon for up to 12 months for the offence, but instead fined the first offender, rather than deferring sentence for him to be assessed by social workers to determine the bst way of dealing with him.

As he ordered him to pay £500 within 28 days, reduced from £750 as he admitted his guilt, the sheriff said: “In the somewhat unusual circumstances of this case I’m prepared to deal with the matter today.

“This is a serious matter.”

Gilgannon showed no emotion during his court appearance and stared straight ahead as he learned he was being spared prison.

Police Scotland have made 11 arrests following violent clashes after the full time whistle on Saturday.

The clashes saw Hibs fans invading the pitch, then coming to blows with Rangers fans, and Rangers players and assistant boss Davie Weir are said to have been attacked during the pitch invasion.

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