Hearts star Lee Wallace in court over nightclub bust up

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By Paul Thornton

NEW Scotland cap Lee Wallace was fined £1100 in court today after he admitted a bust up outside a busy city-centre nightclub.

The Edinburgh born defender, who stars for SPL side Hearts FC, admitted shouting at bouncers and threatening cops when he was refused entry at Lava and Ignite in the Tollcross area of the city during the summer.

BUST-UP: gun threat charges against Lee Wallace were dropped but he was fined £1100 for behaviour
BUST-UP: gun threat charges against Lee Wallace were dropped but he was fined £1100 for behaviour

But earlier claims that he threatened to shoot door staff at Lava and Ignite were dropped by the Crown.

Guilty

Wallace, 22, who made his full international debut against Japan last Saturday, had been out with friends in the capital celebrating the end of the Scottish Premier League season on May 24 this year.

He was refused entry and shouted at doorstaff after they turned him away.

When arrested he also threatened police officers – warning them that he would “remember all of their faces”.

Today at Edinburgh Sheriff Court he was fined £1100 after he pleaded guilty to two charges of breach of the peace.

The gun charged was dropped and a not guilty plea to a third breach of the peace charge was also accepted by prosecutors.

Fiscal depute Caroline Kubala told the court how it was the early hours of May 25 when trouble flared.

Miss Kubala said: “At 1am a witness was performing his duties as a door steward outside Lava and Ignite. At this time he refused entry to a group of people including the offender Wallace.

“The accused became argumentative and aggressive towards him.

“The offender and his group were asked several times to move away from the front of the premises.

“The accused shouted at the door staff ‘you are a poof, you are a f****** poof’.”

Miss Kubala said that following the insults police were called and arrested Wallace before taking him to St Leonard’s Police Station where he continued to act aggressively.

Drunk

She said: “The accused’s conduct at the police station was aggressive, highly agitated and volatile.

“Police officers felt threatened and he was taken directly to the police cells.

“During this time he threatened police constables by saying ‘I will remember all of your faces’.

“This was accompanied by aggressive outbursts.”

Wallace’s solicitor Andrew Houston admitted that his client, from Carrick Knowe, had reacted in an “ill-judged and juvenile” way after being sent to the back of the queue to get in the club.

Mr Houston said that Wallace had been at a Hearts FC night out in the West-End of Edinburgh before getting a taxi to Lava and Ignite with three friends.

Although Mr Houston said Wallace had been drinking on the night, he said there was no suggestion that he had been drunk.

He said: “They joined a queue and when they got to the head of the queue they were advised that the club was open only to students that night.

“Knowing that some of his friends were already in the premises Mr Wallace asked politely if he could get in.

“The manager emerged and told Mr Wallace politely that he would have to join the queue if he wanted get in.”

Arrested

Mr Houston said that the manager of the club did not seem to realise that Wallace had already stood in line and the misunderstanding had caused problems.

BANNED: nightclub turned star away
BANNED: nightclub turned star away

He said: “My client expressed his irritation at having to go back to the end of the queue again in language that was ill-advised and juvenile.”

Mr Houston said that the manager of the club had not reacted badly to the out-burst and two police officers had moved Wallace on from the area.

He said it was only 40 minutes later – and after allegations about what Wallace had said were made – that they arrested him in the capital’s George Street – a well known haunt for local footballers.

Wallace was then bundled into a police car before he let-rip at the officers.

Mr Houston said Wallace had been “embarrassed” by the incident and handed the court a letter from current Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo.

The letter, Mr Houston said, spoke of Wallace in “generous” terms.

He said: “In any view that is a most generous appraisal of this young man.”

Mr Houston added: “He has been with Hearts since 2004 and is a product of the youth academy. He is now a main-stay in the first team.

Penalty

“He has represented Scotland with distinction at under-19, under-20 and at under-21 level and just six days ago he made his full debut for Scotland in Japan.”

Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie QC fined Wallace, of Carrick Knowe Parkway in Edinburgh, £300 for swearing outside the club.

She also fined him £800 for threatening the police officers and said that he is expected to be a role-model to youngsters.

Sheriff Jarvie said: “I’m sure that you are aware that you act as a role model for many young people in the country.

“No doubt that adds to your embarrassment in this situation.

“Taking into account what has been said on your behalf and the night you spent in custody I am willing to deal with this today by way of imposition of a financial penalty.”

Sheriff Jarvie said that each fined had been reduced because of Wallace’s plea of guilty and gave him 28 days to pay.

General manager of Lava and Ignite, Bill McGregor, said that Wallace was still serving a six month ban from the club which is due to expire next month.

But he said the footballer could try again to get in once that was lifted.

Mr McGregor – who is also the chair of pub watch organisation Unight – said: “The fact is the chap has pleaded guilty to breach of the peace and at the end of the day I banned him for six months when the incident happened.

Mistakes

“That will be up next month and he will be allowed in after that – he has had his punishment.

“There will be no hard feelings at whatsoever.

“We are all young at one time and we all make mistakes. He has admitted them and life goes on.

“We will treat him the same as anyone else.”

Wallace declined to comment following the hearing, but it isn’t his first brush with the law.

In 2006 he was fined £1500 in court for possessing an airgun in a city housing scheme having initially been charged with being in possession of a loaded firearm at Sighthill Green.

He claimed he bought it to shoot bottles and cans and was forced to write a letter of apology to the club.

Contract

Wallace joined Hearts in 2004 from Salveson Boys Club after leaving Forrester High School and was voted Hearts Young Player of the Year only a few weeks ago at a dinner in Gorgie.

Last term the 6ft 1in defender signed an extension on his Tynecastle contract with Hearts that keeps him tied to the club until 2012.

Hearts confirmed they had dealt with the latest matter and said Wallace would be available for today’s (sat) match versus Aberdeen.

A spokesman for Hearts FC said: “The club will deal with the matter internally. It will remain confidential between the club and the player and the matter is now closed.

“Lee is available for selection for tomorrow’s game against Aberdeen.”

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