Hearts star Ian Black’s relief after being cleared of cocaine charge

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Hearts midfielder Ian Black said he was “very pleased” after being cleared of a charge of possessing cocaine, and wants to “draw a line under the whole thing”.

The 26-year old, who had constantly denied the allegation, was due to stand trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday charged with being in possession of the Class A drug at the Lava & Ignite nightclub in Tollcross on May 16 last year.

The case was dropped after witnesses failed to attend to give evidence.

After the case was deserted, Black, who lives in Tranent, said he was looking forward to concentrating on his football again.

He said: “Obviously I am very pleased. That’s it as far I am concerned. I want to draw a line under the whole thing and focus on my football.

“It has been hanging over myself and the family for a while but all I want to do is get back to playing my best for Hearts.”

Black, who is available to face Motherwell today following a football suspension, also thanked his club and family for their support. “I’d like to thank my team-mates and the staff at the football club for their support, as well as my family and close friends,” he said.

“We have a lot of vital matches coming up, including the game against Motherwell.

“There are important points to play for, plus we have a huge Scottish Cup quarter final coming up against St Mirren to look forward to.”

When the case was called yesterday, Fiscal Depute, Pauline Shade, told Sheriff Derrick McIntyre that two essential Crown witnesses, members of the security staff at the club, had not attended court and asked that the trial be adjourned to a later date. This was opposed by defence solicitor, Andrew Houston, who said this was the seventh time the case had been before the court.

He said his client was a professional footballer with Heart of Midlothian.

“Over the last several months the club has attracted a considerable amount of publicity, mostly about late payment or non-payment of salaries,” he said.

He added that this had led to Black being unable to meet household expenses and he had begun a part-time job as a painter and decorator.

He said the publicity about the case had had an adverse effect on this and called for Black’s “not guilty” plea to be accepted.

The Fiscal said that the citation to one of the witnesses had been put through a letter box and not personally served. The other witnesses had not been served with a citation at all. She asked for the case to be deserted at this time.

Mr Houston said that his client had undergone routine drug tests by the SFA and UEFA under the terms of his employment and all had been found negative.

To desert the case for this time, he said, was “an adjournment by the back door”.

Sheriff McIntyre said it appeared one of the witnesses was unwilling to attend court and the other would not seem to have been served with a citation. He said: “Bearing in mind the pressure under which the courts are at the moment, I shall refuse The Crown’s motion.”

He deserted the case completely.