Footballer jailed for bat attack back training with old club

Declan Gallagher in action last season. Picture: SNS
Declan Gallagher in action last season. Picture: SNS
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BOSSES at Livingston FC have pledged to listen to fans as they refused to rule out ­re-signing a defender who brutally attacked a man with a baseball bat.

Declan Gallagher, 24, is training with the club after he was freed on bail while he appeals against a three-year jail sentence handed down just a few weeks ago.

After everything we had to go through . . this makes you wonder what was the point

Steven Findlay

Former Celtic youth player Gallagher, who made 28 appearances for the side last season, left Steven Findlay, 45, suffering from bleeding on the brain and a fractured skull after the attack.

Mr Findlay had more than 22 staples inserted in his head and was kept in a hospital’s high dependency unit for five days after Gallagher hit him in the head with a baseball bat outside a hotel in Blantyre, Lanarkshire.

News that Gallagher was back training with Livingston, who he played for until his contract ended at the end of the season, was met with anger by Mr Findlay and politicians.

But bosses at the club said they were open to offering Gallagher a new contract after he was granted training privileges.

A spokesman said Livingston would consider the matter over the next few days and seek legal advice and guidance from the players’ union.

He said: “The decision will be up to the directors and the manager and I expect that there will be fans’ views we have to take into account.

“It’s not a case that we were out there with banners to welcome him back. We extended the opportunity for him to train with us.

“A decision will be taken over the next few days. We are reviewing the situation and we will take advice from a number of quarters. We will take legal advice and speak to PFA Scotland.”

But Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said Livingston’s reputation as a community club which nurtures young players was being put at risk.

The MSP said: “For a club with such a fantastic reputation for nurturing young players, this is a surprising move.

“They have to be careful that years of hard work in the community are not put in jeopardy by this sort of decision.

“And while it’s important to offer offenders the chance of rehabilitation, perhaps Livingston would be better advised to await the outcome of legal proceedings before inviting this player back.”

Mr Findlay – who lost his post as a head chef after the ordeal, which happened in April 2013 – said: “I cannot understand why he has been let out after what he did.

“After everything we had to go through at court, reliving evidence, all the street of recovery during the last two years, this makes you wonder what was the point.”

The Scottish Courts Service has said that a convicted person can apply to the High Court to be granted bail pending an appeal.

The decision on whether to grant the application is made by a judge.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com