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Thug cleared of Neil Lennon attack after not proven verdict

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The Hearts fan who attacked Neil Lennon on the sidelines during a match between Hearts and Celtic has been cleared of assaulting the Celtic manager after a jury at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court found the case against him not proven.

Despite clear-cut video evidence, which were beamed all over the world, John Wilson denied that his actions were aggravated by religious prejudice, and denied all the allegations against him.

Wilson was found guilty of breach of the peace – an act that any Tom, Dick and Harry could receive by shouting aggressively on the street or swearing in the presence of Police – by running onto the pitch at Hearts in May and shouting and swearing at Mr Lennon.

Wilson will return to the Sheriff Court at a later date where he will be sentenced. Wilson had been accused of assault and breach of the peace, both of which were aggravated by religious prejudice.

The charges against Wilson was that he had assaulted Mr Lennon and caused breach of the peace by conducting himself in a disorderly manner, running onto the field during the match, running at the away team dug out, shouting, swearing, making a sectarian remark, all to the alarm and annoyance of others and causing further disturbance within the crowd.

During the case, the court had heard that Wilson admitted breaching the peace and attacking Mr Lennon, but denied uttering a sectarian remark, describing the incident as a “moment of madness” and said he “regretted” it.

Celtic Football Club released a statement after the verdict this evening which read: “It is for the Jury to decide on this case, however, we find the accused’s acquittal of the charge of assault difficult to comprehend bearing in mind our knowledge of the incident.

“One thing is clear – this was a disgraceful incident involving Neil Lennon, seen by the world – the sort of incident which should not have happened in any football stadium and one which embarrassed Scottish football.

“Regardless of the verdict reached, we hope that people will learn from the events of last season and realise these cannot be repeated.

“As always we will give Neil Lennon our full support and hope that this season he can be given the opportunity to be allowed to do his job without the kind of threats, attacks and intimidation which have marred much of his time in Scotland.”

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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