Dundee FC has issued a statement after Paul McGowan dodged jail having admitted spitting on a bouncer during a drunken nightclub rammy.
The 30-year-old former Celtic midfielder was being thrown out of Dundee’s Underground nightclub in the city’s South Tay Street when the vile attack occurred.
Dundee Sheriff Court today heard the thug was being “ejected due to his aggressive behaviour towards other patrons” when he turned and spat on bouncer Andrew MacLaughlan.
The incident happened after Dundee FC’s player of the year awards do on Monday, May 14 at around 2am.
Despite his multiple previous convictions for police assault, assault, breach of the peace and threatening and abusive behaviour McGowan avoided jail and instead was placed on an electronic tag, ordered to carry out unpaid work in the community and pay his victim £200 compensation.
A sheriff told him: “It is by a narrow margin you are avoiding a custodial sentence.”
McGowan – who turned up 29 minutes late for his court appearance – sat with club chairman John Nelms in the public benches as he awaited his case being called.
A club statement released today said: “Dundee FC can confirm Paul McGowan has been handed a limited Liberty Restriction Order and a Community Payback Order in court this morning.
“The club does not condone the behaviour which has led to this and we respect the decision made by the court.
“We will support Paul through this process.
“The club will be making no further comment on the matter.”
Fiscal depute Laura Bruce told Dundee Sheriff Court that McGowan had been spotted spitting on Mr MacLaughlan at around 1.45am on the street outside the nightclub.
She said: “Mr MacLaughlan and another door steward were escorting Mr McGowan up the stairs from the locus.
“He was seen on CCTV as clearly not happy and he kept approaching the door.
“He then spat on Mr MacLaughlan as he walked back down the stairs.”
McGowan, 30, of Kelvin Drive, Airdrie, pleaded guilty on summary complaint to a charge of assaulting Andrew MacLaughlan by spitting on him.
Defence solicitor Elaine Rae said McGowan, a father-of-one, had claimed he had been punched moments before the spitting attack.
She said: “He had been at a player of the year awards ceremony at a hotel and had gone to the nightclub with a number of team mates.
“On exiting the nightclub he was punched in the back of the head and that caused the commotion in the first place.
“During that commotion spat at the individual who had punched him but instead hit Mr MacLaughlan.
“He fully appreciates that is no excuse and accepts full responsibility for his actions.
“His behaviour was fuelled by the consumption of alcohol.
“He very rarely goes out drinking and he recognises the complainer was only doing his job.
“There’s clearly a correlation between his consumption of alcohol and this behaviour.
“Fortunately there was no physical harm caused though I don’t seek to minimise his conduct.”
Sheriff John Rafferty imposed a community payback order with 12 months supervision, 200 hours of unpaid work and £200 compensation to McGowan’s victim.
He also placed McGowan on an electronic tag requiring him to be at his home address between 7pm and 7am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for the next two months.
The sheriff said that was so McGowan could continue to play midweek matches and carry out coaching duties in Dundee’s youth setup during the week.
He said: “Unlike many other people who appar in these courts you are someone who has a particular skill and talent – an advantage in life.
“Notwithstanding that you have been before the criminal courts on a number of occasions since 2010.
“Several of these are for crimes of violence and you have previously had the advantage of community based alternatives.
“The court has to impose a sentence which deters others from conduct of that nature.
“Obviously one such deterrent is a custodial sentence.
“However, I am persuaded there may be an alternative in this instance.”
McGowan – who also previously starred for Hamilton and St Mirren – was signed for Dundee by Paul Hartley in 2014 and has played over 120 games for the club since, scoring six goals.
In 2015 he admitted his third police assault charge and narrowly avoided a jail term.
Airdrie Sheriff Court heard how in that instance McGowan “charged at officers” called to a disturbance before kicking a cop who had detained him at Coatbridge police station.
In 2013 he also dodged jail over a police assault – being handed 130 hours of community service and a year’s supervision.
He also has another previous assault rap from 2013 and a further police attack conviction from 2010.
Sentencing him in 2015 a Sheriff Derek O’Carroll told McGowan: “You have a hostile attitude to police and your solicitor is right to say you are on the cusp of custody.”
Paul McGowan’s previous convictions
The court heard McGowan had racked up multiple criminal convictions since 2010.
According to documents placed before the sentencing sheriff he has previously been convicted of one assault, three police assaults, one breach of the peace and two charges of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner between March 2010 and March 2015.
- March 8 2010 (conviction date) – Airdrie Sheriff Court (court) – Assault, Breach of the Peace (offence) – Compensation of £200 (penalty).
- April 5 2013 – Airdrie Sheriff Court – Behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, Police assault – £1,600 fine.
- December 16 2013 – Airdrie Sheriff Court – Police assault (x2) – Community payback order with 130 hours unpaid work.
- March 19 2015 – Airdrie Sheriff Court – Behaving in a threatening and abusive manner, Police assault – Restriction of liberty order for 16 weeks.
- July 16 2018 – Dundee Sheriff Court – Assault – Restriction of liberty order for two months, Community payback order with one years’ supervision and 200 hours unpaid work, £200 compensation.