Kirkcaldy football coach acquitted of culpable homicide

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An amateur football coach was acquitted of killing a man after seriously injuring him in an attack outside a Kirkcaldy pub.

Grant Gay returned to the bar after being told Lawrence Wallace had made a derogatory hand gesture.

He felled the older man with a single punch in the attack in Tolbooth Street and the victim later died in hospital.

Gay denied the culpable homicide of Mr Wallace, formerly of Kirkcaldy, on March 20 in 2015 during a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The jury deleted the allegation in the charge he had killed Mr Wallace (60) but convicted him of assaulting him to his severe injury.

Following the verdict a judge called for a background report on Gay, Kirkcaldy, who has never previously served a prison sentence.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Judge John Morris QC told him: “I will give you your liberty at the moment. While a custodial sentence is not inevitable, standing the jury’s verdict it is highly likely so I suggest you put your affairs in order.”

The judge told jurors it had been “a very anxious case for all sorts of reasons”.

Gay and his wife Ashley had been at the Wheatsheaf bar drinking cider and trying to raise funds for a football team with a score sheet game.

She said at one point Gay walked back and she saw Mr Wallace, who was also in the pub, make a rude gesture.

They left and went home but Gay said he was going back to the pub for the correct score sheet and she told him she thought she had seen Mr Wallace make the hand motion.

She was asked why she had told Gay that at that stage and replied: “Because I didn’t want him to go back to the pub.”

She said she had heard a door and thought Gay had gone into a spare bedroom.

Gay, a coach with Kingdom Athletic, said he had left the flat to get the score sheet but added that if he had bumped into Mr Wallace he would probably have raised the issue with him.

He said when he returned to the Wheatsheaf Mr Wallace was straight in front of him. He said: “I just asked him to have a quick word with me. I walked out and he just came behind me. I just wanted to clear it up.”

“I wasn’t wanting to cause any trouble. I was just wanting a quiet word with him,” he told the court.

The subsequent confrontation outside the bar was captured on CCTV footage which was shown to the jury.

Gay told jurors that Mr Wallace was coming towards him and he was afraid and punched him. He said: “I was frightened for my life.” He claimed: “I was trying to protect myself.”

He said that after the punch he noticed Mr Wallace’s eyes were open and he was breathing but was aware of people coming out and panicked.

Ambulance personnel arrived and found the assault victim, who suffered a fractured jaw, with injuries to his chin and the back of his head. He was found to have suffered a cardiac arrest.

The court heard that Mr Wallace was found to have significant health issues, including heart disease which could have resulted in him collapsing and dying.