A Rangers fan has become the first passenger on the new Borders Railway to be convicted of a criminal offence after admitting singing sectarian songs.
John Johnstone was shouting and swearing and making offensive remarks towards the conductor after being involved in an angry exchange with two Hibs supporters getting off the train.
The 43-year-old, of Eildon Road, Hawick, and his friends refused to desist, and eventually police were called and were waiting for him when the train arrived in Galashiels on Saturday, January 30.
Prosecutor Tessa Bradley told Selkirk Sheriff Court: “The accused was sitting on the 21.56 service from Edinburgh to Tweedbank with three other males.
“When the train stopped at Eskbank, two other males were getting off, and one of them made a comment about a Rangers logo someone was wearing. At this point, Johnstone and one of his friends became rowdy by shouting and swearing, being particularly offensive and singing sectarian songs.”
Ms Bradley went on: “The conductor came along and asked them to calm down, but they refused to stop, particularly Johnstone, who continued to sing songs and being abusive, using swear words and saying ‘he is a f*****g Tim’, possibly directed towards the conductor.
“This caused distress to other passengers in the carriage.
“The conductor and another gentleman had a discussion about the behaviour and whether the police should be called. During this, Johnstone took a photo of the other passenger.
“The British Transport Police were contacted, but they did not have the resources to get there. As a result, police officers met the train at Galashiels when it arrived at 22.49.”
Defence lawyer Ed Hulme said Johnstone, two friends and his 15-year-old son had been returning from the Rangers v Falkirk game at Ibrox, which the home side won 1-0.
He claimed it was the two Hibs fans who started the angry exchange, with “unfortunate consequences”.
Mr Hulme added: “He has been attending Rangers games since he was 15 years old and recently attended the Old Firm game without any difficulties.”
Sheriff Derrick McIntyre was told that Johnstone was unfit for work as he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as well as anxiety and depression. He relies onemployment support allowance and disability living allowance for income.
Sheriff McIntyre fined him £200, pointing out this was a serious matter as it was an aggravated offence.
A not-guilty plea from Deryk Fox, 40, of Lorraine Court, Camberley, Sussex, to the same charge was accepted by the Crown.
SHOPLIFTERS FACING JAIL
A man and woman from Galashiels who walked out of a Kelso supermarket with a trolley packed with goods without paying have been warned they face the prospect of a custodial sentence.
Kirsty Ritchie, 30, of St Andrew Street, and David Jeffrey, 36, of Laidlaw Court, had pre-planned the theft at Sainsbury’s on January 13.
Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told the couple had been speaking beforehand about going to the store to fill a trolley full of items and leave without paying.
Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said that was exactly what they did, filling the trolley with bedding, flowers and other goods, adding: “They set off a security alarm on leaving the store, but that did not alert staff.”
However, the police later received information about the incident from a member of the public, and the store’s CCTV was checked.
Ritchie estimated the goods in the trolley would have been to the value of around £300.
Sheriff Peter Paterson said it was a serious matter and warned the pair they faced going to jail. He called for background reports, and sentence was deferred until June 13.
FAN RED-CARDED FROM THE ROAD
A water engineer who drove home after watching an Old Firm football match in a pub was almost five times the legal alcohol limit, Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard.
Former soldier Steven Turnbull pleaded guilty to driving with a breath-alcohol count of 104 microgrammes, the legal limit being 22.
Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said the 33-year-old had watched the Rangers v Celtic game on television and then driven the short distance back to his home in Stonefield Place, Hawick, on the evening of April 17. But on the way, he collided with a parked vehicle and his car spun around, blocking the road in both directions.
Witnesses said Turnbull appeared to be stunned and unsteady on his feet.
There was extensive damage to both vehicles.
His solicitor, Ross Dow, said Turnbull faced the prospect of losing his job as a result of the conviction, adding: “His intention was to pick up the car the next again day, but he stupidly took a chance.”
Turnbull was fined £300 and banned from the road for 18 months.
A Hawick man involved in a domestic bust-up with his partner has been fined £100 and ordered to pay £75 compensation to an elderly neighbour who was disturbed by the noise during the early hours of the morning.
Catalin Pantea, 24, pleaded guilty to a charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner in Coopers Bar, Hawick, and at his home in Princes Street by acting in an aggressive manner towards his partner and struggling with her on March 6.
Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser told Jedburgh Sheriff Court that the couple had been together for six months and had been at Coopers Bar the previous night where they had an argument and were involved in a struggle.
He said: “The argument brewed up again at around 1.30am. He pushed his partner onto a bed on a number of occasions.
“A 78-year-old neighbour was woken up by the noise.
“This is not something which just affects them.
“The 78-year-old woman phoned the police because she was scared and was worried someone was at risk.”
INNERLEITHEN RAID CHARGE
A 20-year-old man was remanded in custody after being accused of taking part in a raid on an Innerleithen convenience store at the weekend.
Marques Munro, 20, is charged with assault and robbery following an incident at Caddon Court Mini Market on Saturday. He made no plea or declaration during a brief private hearing at Jedburgh Sheriff Court, and the case was continued for further examination.
Munro, from the Bulwell area of Nottingham, is expected to appear in court again next Tuesday.