FORMER HIBS star Garry O'Connor has vowed to focus on his football after being acquitted on fraud charges.
The footballer, 29, said he had been crippled by stress in the days leading up to his acquittal, and revealed he spent sleepless nights worrying about whether he would be sent to jail if he was convicted of swindling an insurance company.
The ex-Birmingham City striker stood accused of trying to con £93,500 from Aviva Insurance by telling them that he crashed his Ferrari super car into a deer.
But O’Connor, of Dirleton, East Lothian, was acquitted of the allegations at Haddington Sheriff Court yesterday after prosecution lawyers decided not to proceed with the case against him. The Crown decided to drop charges after a sheriff ruled that a key piece of evidence which allegedly proved O’Connor's guilt couldn’t be used in court.
His friend Darren 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.
Speaking moments after his acquittal, O’Connor – who was convicted of possessing cocaine at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week – 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. I now just want to concentrate on the other case and get that out of the way.
“I want to think Hibernian for standing by me over the last year. They and my family have offered me fantastic support. I want to concentrate on my football – I am going to give that 100 per cent.”
In court, the Crown wanted to lead a tape recording made that was made of O’Connor allegedly telephoning Aviva Insurance. It was claimed in court that O’Connor told insurers that he wrote off his Ferrari crashing into a deer in Gullane, East Lothian, on April 30, 2011.
However, prosecutors alleged that the footballer's pal had actually driven the red Ferrari F430 Spider F1 into a railway bridge two weeks earlier.
Prosecutors hoped the tape recording would help to prove their case against O’Connor.
However, defence solicitor advocate Liam O’Donnell said to lead the tape in evidence was illegal. Sheriff Peter Braid agreed, prompting the Crown to drop the case against O’Connor as they no longer had enough evidence to prove his guilt.
O’Connor will be sentenced for possessing drugs later this month at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.