Proceedings began just after 11.30am with Mr Paton entering a plea of “incrimination,” laying the blame for the assault he is accused of on a Christopher McClusky. Crown counsel told the court that the victim of the assault, footballer Lucaz Zaluska was not available to give evidence as he was in Germany.
The first witness called for the prosecution was Mark Wilson, 31. After being sworn in Wilson told the court he was a former footballer with Dundee United FC and had left the club in January this year. The witness told the court he had been in Glasgow’s Ashton Lane on the 20th October 2014 socialising with his wife Kelly and a group of friends including the accused Paul Paton and a Christopher McClusky.
At around 11.40, Wilson said, the group left a public house on the lane “Jinty McGinties,” and met Lucasz Zalusaka, a former Celtic team-mate. Asked to describe Zaluska’s state Wilson said he was “pretty far gone” and under the influence of alcohol. The witness then told the court that Paton introduced himself to Zalusaka and shook his hand. Zaluska then said “you are Rangers” to Paton who replied “no I play with Dundee United.” Zaklusak, the court heard “wouldn’t let it go,” and kept saying “you are Rangers” and “I hate Rangers,”“I thought he was being overly-aggressive” Wilson said.
The witness told the court that at this point he felt “something might happen” and stepped between Paton and Zaluska. Wilson said he then ushered Zalusaka away towards Byres Rd and advised him to get a taxi home but the goalkeeper then turned round and "started shouting up the lane, “I hate Rangers, I want to kill all Rangers fans.” “I asked him what he was talking about,” Wilson said. The accused, the witness told the court, then approached Zalusaka and “slapped” him. The goalkeeper, Wilson said, then stumbled and fell backwards against a taxi. “I was surprised it [the slap] would knock a guy as big as him down,” Wilson added.
Asked by the prosecution the witness agreed Zaluska had not “laid hands” on Paton although he had been aggressive. Wilson said he then went to leave the scene in a taxi but “within a minute” he heard a “commotion” and looked back to see Zaluska unconscious in the ground with blood coming from his head. The witness told the court he did not see how this happened. He then went to Zalusaka and stayed with him until he regained consciousness.
The court was then shown CCTV footage taken from a camera inside a branch of the TSB on Ashton lane/Byers Rd. A man in the footage, Wilson said, appeared to be Paul Paton. The recording, the court was told, appeared to show a “coming together” of two people, however because of the angle only the leg of the second person can be seen. A further piece of footage, Wilson agreed, showed him and Zalusaka in Ashton Lane with the witness holding the goalkeeper back “to stop him getting to Paul.” The pair then walk down the lane towards a taxi rank at the bottom of the lane. Wilson identified another person on the footage as a journalist, Matt McGlone, but told the court McGlone had not been in his company on the night in question and he had only found out who he was after the incident.
There was then a brief break while a legal matter was discussed
When proceedings resumed Wilson was asked about the injuries sustained by Zaluska and told the court there was “a fair bit of blood,” on the victims head.
Defence Counsel, Mr Lavell, then rose to cross-examine the witness. Wilson confirmed the incident occurred on a Sunday and the players would not be expected back for training until the following Tuesday. Asked by counsel Wilson said he had “four or five pints” and a “couple of vodkas” but did not think either he, or Paton, were particularly drunk as he had consumed the alcohol over nine or so hours.
The witness told the court that Zaluska was with two woman and there was another man who appeared to be in his company but he had not been introduced to him. He agreed that it was the goalkeeper who “appeared to have an issue” and nothing Paton had said was anything other than “friendly conversation.” “In a matter of seconds, he [Zaluska] appeared to get something in his head about Rangers,” Wilson added. The witness agreed that that the goalkeeper had said to him: “I’ll phone Paddy McCourt [an Irish Celtic player] and tell him you are with a hun.”
The witness told the court that he had been “taken aback” by Zaluska’s comments especially given the crowded nature of Ashton Lane at the time and agreed it was a possible that other people could have got involved given what he was shouting. Wilson said that Paton had initially been calm but as the goalkeeper kept shouting he “became more animated,” and finally slapped Zaluska on the face. “It was not a clean punch,” he told the court. The witness said that after that he had left the scene having “had enough,” of the situation.
Proceedings then adjourned for lunch/