George Heriot’s pupil guilty of assaulting friend

Sam Stobart. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Sam Stobart. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A PUPIL at one of the Capital’s top private schools has been convicted of headbutting a friend during a drunken Hogmanay party thrown at his parent’s home.

George Heriot’s student Sam Stobart was found guilty of assaulting schoolmate John Pearson after a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

But a sheriff gave the 18-year-old – whose mother is advocate Alice Stobart, a top lawyer who has represented Ultimo bra tycoon Michelle Mone – an absolute discharge following his conviction.

The sentence means first offender Stobart – who is set to begin studies at Exeter University – does not have a criminal record.

Stobart attacked Mr Pearson at the home in Newington just moments after the bells on January 1 last year.

Although the pair shook hands moments after the assault, police were called and Stobart – who played rugby for his school – was taken to court.

The jury yesterday acquitted him of a charge that he assaulted Mr Pearson’s 21-year-old brother, Nicholas, at the party by striking him on the head with a glass bottle.

Stobart was also cleared of assaulting Nicholas by stabbing him on the arm with a piece of glass to his severe injury and permanent disfigurement.

Following the verdict, Sheriff James Scott gave the accused an absolute discharge. He said: “I take into account what has been said on your behalf and the mitigating factors of you not having any previous convictions and having this hanging over you for a period of time. Also, the charge to which you have been convicted of 
is a very different kettle of fish from the other two charges which you have been acquitted of.

“I have also taken into account the circumstances under which this assault took place and that you and John Pearson shook hands afterwards.

“I do not see any reason for you to have a conviction for assault.”

During the trial, the court heard how Mr Pearson had been drinking in the hours leading up to New Year 2013.

The jury heard Mr Pearson, who also attended George Heriot’s, hugged Stobart and a teenage girl shortly after the bells. Taking exception to his guest’s behaviour, Stobart headbutted him.

In his closing speech, defence advocate Derick Nelson told the court that evidence suggested John Pearson was acting like a “drunken pest” during the party.

Following conviction, Mr Nelson told the sheriff: “[Stobart] is 18 and is due to attend Exeter University in September. He has never been in any sort of trouble before. He was subject to very serious conditions of bail and the whole experience has been punishment enough.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com