May 25 2012 Ayrshire Post (main ed)
AN off-duty policeman who lashed out after being goaded by an aggressive drunk has been cleared by appeal court judges.
A sheriff fined Ross Cartner £300 after hearing how Christmas drinks at the Black Bull pub in Mauchline led to blows being traded.
But the conviction for assault put PC Cartner's career on the line.
PC Cartner, 30, a probationer with Strathclyde Police and with less than two years service, took his case to the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh.
His lawyers argued that Sheriff John Montgomery had been wrong to rule out his claim that he was acting in self defence.
They also said the sheriff was wrong to convict PC Cartner of kicking kitchen fitter Scott Biggart, 23, when there was no evidence to back Mr Biggart's claim.
Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, sitting with Lord Bonomy and Sheriff Principal Brian Lockhart, ruled in Cartner's favour.
The trial at Ayr Sheriff Court heard that Mr Biggart was in the pub in Earl Grey Street, Mauchline, on December 24, 2010.
He had drunk about 12 pints of lager during the course of the day.
Mr Biggart – for no apparent reason – launched a tirade of expletives at PC Cartner calling him “polis b******” and other four-letter words.
PC Cartner asked Mr Biggart for a word outside the pub and as they left the premises Mr Biggart punched the off duty policeman in the eye.
During the scuffle which followed, PC Cartner lashed out and Mr Biggart suffered an injury to his eye.
In court he denied he had started the fight.