Footballer facing jail after breaking opponent’s jaw

Dundee Sheriff Court
Dundee Sheriff Court

A footballer who brought down his opponent with a late tackle before breaking his jaw after the opponent reacted to the challenge, was today (Wednesday) warned he faces years in jail.

Ross Sinclair was playing for Plough Athletic against Queen Anne FC in the Dundee Sunday Amateur league when the match erupted into violence.

Sinclair brought down Josh McHugh with a late tackle just minutes before the end of the match, with Queen Anne FC leading 2-1.

Mr McHugh reacted furiously - hurling abuse and becoming aggressive before a scuffle broke out, he was then dragged away before things escalated.

But when Mr McHugh turned his back to walk away, Sinclair ran up from behind and viciously attacked him.

Mr McHugh was left with his jaw broken in two places and had to be fitted with two metal plates and four screws. He told a jury at Dundee Sheriff Court that he could only eat soup for three months after the attack.

The court was told that the incident prompted the abandonment of the game - with a mass brawl then erupting off the pitch as some of those present got “vigilante justice” on Sinclair.

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told the jury: “You may think on some level Mr McHugh deserved a punch.

“You may also think the accused deserved the battering he got from the Queen Anne supporters in the car park later that morning, but that is not the way the law works.

“If someone acts aggressively towards you, even punches you and you respond by running up behind them whilst they are being dragged away and assault them from behind by striking them so hard that you break their jaw then that is not self defence, that is retaliation.”

Sinclair, 20, of Peffers Place, Forfar, denied a charge on indictment of assault to severe injury.

But a jury of eight men and seven women took just an hour to convict him.

Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and released Sinclair on bail meantime.

He said: “This was a very nasty assault that did substantial damage.

“A custodial sentence running into several years is a very real possibility.”