FOOTBALLER Garry O’Connor has described his relief after he was cleared of attempting to defraud an insurance company over a £93,500 claim on his crashed Ferrari.
The former Hibs striker appeared in the dock for just two minutes yesterday before being found not guilty of the fraud after the Crown revealed there was “now insufficient evidence to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt”.
Speaking moments after his acquittal as he left Haddington Sheriff Court, O’Connor, 29, said: “I’m so happy to be acquitted. I am really relieved. This prosecution has caused me a tremendous amount of stress and strain for me and my family. I’ve spent many a sleepless night worrying about the potential consequences of the case.”
He added: “I want to thank Hibernian for standing by me over the last year. They and my family have offered me fantastic support.”
The ex-Birmingham City striker stood accused of trying to con £93,500 from Aviva Insurance by telling them that he hit a deer in his Ferrari F430 Spider F1 in Gullane, East Lothian, on 30 April 2011.
It had been alleged a friend of his, Darren Brock, caused the damage following a collision with a railway bridge at Meadowmill, East Lothian, two weeks earlier.
But O’Connor was acquitted of the allegations after the Crown decided to drop charges. That followed a sheriff’s ruling that a key piece of evidence, which allegedly proved O’Connor’s guilt, could not be used in court.
Mr Brock was cited to appear as a witness, but failed to show at the court two weeks ago. It was expected that Mr Brock would appear in court yesterday to testify, but no witnesses were called and the case was thrown out.
Depute procurator fiscal Alison Innes told the court: “During the adjournment from last week I have had the opportunity of reviewing the evidence in this case and I can now intimate that I do not intend to lead any further evidence and therefore I am not intending to seek a conviction.”
The presiding sheriff, Peter Braid, then said: “Stand up, Mr O’Connor. I find you not guilty of those circumstances.”
O’Connor, who is currently looking for a new club after being released by Hibernian, was found guilty last week at an Edinburgh court of possessing cocaine and obstructing police, following an incident in the capital on 14 May, 2011.
He will be sentenced for that offence on 29 June.