Ex-Hibs ace Gary Deegan tells of ‘street attack’

Gary Deegan leaves Edinburgh Sheriff  Picture: TSPL

Gary Deegan leaves Edinburgh Sheriff Picture: TSPL

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A FORMER Hibs ace couldn’t play football for more than three months after his jaw was broken in an alleged early morning attack, a court has heard.

Gary Deegan, 26, told Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday that he needed two operations after he was allegedly assaulted on the city’s George Street in October 2012.

The court heard how Mr Deegan, who was born in Dublin, had spent a Saturday night partying with team mates in the Shanghai night club nearby.

The midfielder, who had spent the evening drinking Corona beer and vodka and cranberry juice, said he had relieved himself in George Street moments before a man punched him on the face.

He told the court that the man who punched him was part of a group that was standing in the street.

Mr Deegan said he had asked the group where he could find a taxi to take him home. But Mr Deegan said a man, who was a group member, punched him.

He added: “I felt stunned and dazed and I didn’t know what to do.”

Mr Deegan, who currently plays for English League Two side Northhampton Town, was giving evidence on the first day of proceedings against 28-year-old John Hall.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Hall, of Gilmerton, Edinburgh, assaulted Mr Deegan to his severe injury in the city centre of the Scottish capital on October 7, 2012.

On Tuesday, Mr Deegan told a jury that he and his team mates had gone for a meal in George Street hours after Hibs defeated Dundee and went top of the SPL.

He told the court that they went to the Shanghai nightclub after the meal.

Mr Deegan said that he had been enjoying himself in the club but had become involved in an argument with a fan of city rivals Hearts.

When he was asked how he acts when he has had a large amount to drink, Mr Deegan said: “I get very luvvy and soppy.”

The court heard that at 2.19am, he sent a text message to his partner Grace which read: “Getting s*** off a Hearts fan.”

At 2.29am, he sent another message which said: “Your man got kicked out. Got a bit heavy but I was the bigger man.”

When the nightclub closed, Mr Deegan left. He told the court that he did the toilet in George Street.

Mr Deegan then told the court that he saw a group of men and asked them where he could get a taxi.

The court heard that he was then punched on the left side of the face.

Mr Deegan said he had been looking at his phone when he was struck. He told the court: “I kept looking at me phone. I was blind sided. I was unaware when I got struck.”

Mr Deegan then told the court that he initially didn’t want to be helped - his mouth was full of blood and that he just wanted to be home with his two dogs and his partner.

But an ambulance was called and he was initially taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary Hospital before he was taken to St John’s Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian.

Surgeons there operated on Mr Deegan twice. He was unable to play for a total of 13 weeks.

He told the court: “It didn’t sit properly. I had to get it done a second time.”

In cross examination, Mr Deegan denied being aggressive in the moments leading up to the alleged assault.

The court heard that Mr Deegan allegedly told somebody who had told him off for relieving himself in the street: “I can do what I want. Do you know who I am?”

But when defence solicitor Nigel Bruce asked Mr Deegan whether he had said that or had been acting aggressively towards the group, the footballer replied: “no.”

The jury were also played CCTV footage of the alleged attack.

Mr Hall has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The trial before Sheriff Nigel Ross continues.