Rugby player gets tag after attack during game

A star rugby player who “deliberately” broke a rival player’s nose during a game has been sentenced to unpaid work and electronically tagged.

Thursday, 23rd April 2015, 3:22 pm

Murrayfield Wanderers player Callum Hanratty was convicted of head butting Colin Cantley during an aggressive return match between his team and Livingston RFC at the West Lothian club’s Almond Park ground in 2013.

Gym manager Hanratty, 32, of Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, had denied assault and claimed he acted in self defence but was found guilty after a two-day trial

He was also convicted of repeatedly punching Mr Cantley, 28, who was helped off the pitch with blood streaming from his smashed nose.

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The victim’s partner – who witnessed the attack as she stood on the sidelines with her children – rushed him to hospital for treatment.

The Livingston player later underwent two operations to reset his broken nose following the melee in March 2013.

Hanratty said in his defence that he took Mr Cantley down with a “firm but ordinary tackle but claimed Mr Cantley then tried to kick his legs and trip him up.

He said Mr. Cantley shouted: “Go on, hit me. Hit me!” and they struggled with each other before other players “arrived from everywhere”.

He said: “There was a lot of weight flying around and there was the odd fist or knee going in. I covered my head.”

He flatly denied head butting or punching Mr Cantley, but admitted he’d later been suspended for seven weeks by the Scottish Rugby Union for an alleged “strike with head”.

Sarah Meehan, defending, said her client had not been in trouble before and described the attack as an isolated incident

She said Hanratty’s work in the fitness industry meant he was subject to enhanced disclosure and was waiting to learn if he would lose his job as a result of the conviction.

She said the outcome of the trial had already forced him to give up voluntary work which which had helped raise thousands of pounds for cancer charities.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Susan Craig said the author of a favourable background report appeared to express “disdain” for his conviction and displayed “significant sympathy” for the accused.

She told Hanratty: “Unlike the author of this report, I heard the evidence, reached my conclusions in relation to your culpability and found you guilty.

“That assault on the complainer was serious and it resulted in a serious injury to him.

“The fact that it happened on a rugby pitch doesn’t help you at all.

“The incident occurred when play was over. You took the opportunity to assault this individual when you thought there was no-one looking.

“It turned out there were people looking and they were able to give evidence.”

She ordered Hanratty to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work over the next six months as part of a community payback order.

She also imposed a restriction of liberty order under which he will be confined to his home overnight for 10 weeks.

Hanratty, who still maintains his innocence, commented after an earlier hearing: “Imagine if everybody that struck someone on a football pitch or rugby pitch came to court.

“The courts would be full to overflowing if they did. It can come to a stage where you feel you have to justify your hobby.”