Court lets boxer off after punch over racist taunts

Lewis Benson won silver when he represented Scotland in Belgrade recently. Picture: Jane Barlow
Lewis Benson won silver when he represented Scotland in Belgrade recently. Picture: Jane Barlow
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A CHAMPION boxer from the Capital who floored another man with a single punch after a string of racist taunts has been let off with a court warning.

Scottish and British amateur champion Lewis Benson was admonished by an Edinburgh Sheriff Court judge after pleading guilty to assaulting Ross Anderson in Princes Street during a night out.

But the verbal warning – which came after witnesses for Mr Anderson failed to show up and does not carry a fine or prison sentence – boosts the Clermiston fighter’s chances of escaping censure by his sport’s governing body.

Mr Benson, just 22, trains at the city’s Lochend Club and has represented Scotland on a number of occasions – most recently at the Belgrade Winners Tournament where he won a silver medal.

He also holds the 2013 Scottish 69kg Championship and 2012 British Championship titles at that weight.

Making known his decision at yesterday’s hearing, Sheriff Gordon Liddle told an “ashamed” Mr Benson: “I am going to admonish you and that could put an end to any disciplinary action you will have to face.

“That disposal might, in some way, indicate to the boxing authorities whether you should continue to represent Scotland.”

The court heard how the talented boxer was out drinking with pals in a nightclub on December 16 last year and was on edge after overhearing a punter repeatedly make racist 

It was revealed he snapped on Princes Street when he heard another individual use the racist word “n*****”.

Mr Benson then ran up to Mr Anderson and knocked him to the ground with a single blow, prompting a chase by police which led to his arrest in Thistle Street.

Describing her client as a “pleasant, polite young man”, defence solicitor Rhona McLeod told the court that the assault was out of character for the qualified 

Mr Benson trains three times a day, does not take drugs and generally does not drink, Ms McLeod added.

She went on: “He takes his position as an amateur boxer very seriously. He is very ashamed. This could have repercussions for him”.

Sheriff Liddle accepted there had been racist taunts but said physically assaulting someone in retaliation was unacceptable and had created a “blemish” on Mr Benson.

“The complainers did not turn up and I don’t know why they are not here to give evidence, but justice must assume innocence,” he said.