Leigh Griffiths admits 'endangering fans' by booting lit pyro into crowd

The ex-Scotland and Celtic striker 'culpably and recklessly' kicked a pyrotechnic device at St Johnstone fans while playing for Dundee.

Former Scotland star Leigh Griffiths admits ‘endangering fans’ by booting lit pyro at St Johnstone support SNS Group

Former Scotland and Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has admitted endangering the lives of football fans by booting a lit flare into a crowd of supporters.

The player admitted on Friday acting in a culpable and reckless way by kicking the pyrotechnic device into a group of away fans while he was starring for Dundee.

Griffiths, who could face up to 12 months behind bars, was not present at Dundee Sheriff Court as he admitted striking one of the St Johnstone fans with the smoke bomb.

The 32-year-old former international star was not present in court, but solicitor Larry Flynn submitted a guilty plea on his behalf when the case called for an intermediate diet.

Mr Flynn told the court that Griffiths, who is playing for Australian Division Two team Mandurah City, had intended to return to Scotland for his trial before changing his plea to guilty.

He said Griffiths, whose team face a top of the table clash this weekend, had a flight booked to be back in Dundee for when the trial was scheduled on September 4.

Mr Flynn said: “Mr Griffiths is not present. He is a professional footballer. I have been in touch with him in Australia. He has booked a flight to be back for September 4.

“He is playing for his new team until September. He will be pleading guilty to this charge.”

Sheriff George Way deferred sentence until September 6 and ordered Griffiths to appear in person. He said: “Am I right in thinking he has emigrated and the whole direction of his life is no longer here?”

Mr Flynn told the court that Griffiths’ children remained in Scotland. Fiscal depute Lora Apostolova told the court the player had previous convictions. Griffiths was ordained to appear next month.

Griffiths, 32, from Glasgow, admitted booting the flare into a group of fans watching the match between Dundee and St Johnstone on September 22, 2021.

He admitted carrying out the offence at Dens Park Stadium in Dundee, “during the course of a football match being played there”.

The former Wolves frontman “culpably and recklessly kicked a flare, smoke bomb or similar item into the crowd occupying the Bob Shankly Stand”.

He admitted that “in doing so, he did cause the said flare, smoke bomb or similar item to strike David Soutar on the body, all to the danger of the lieges”.

The Crown previously told the court that Griffiths had been captured on CCTV kicking the smoking device over the pitchside barrier into a crowded area of opposition fans. 

The court was told that the police evidence had been agreed in the case. The flare was thrown onto the pitch from the same section of supports, but no-one has been prosecuted in connection with that part of the incident.

Sheriff George Way said: “Looking at it, it is kicking a smoke bomb or similar item. One would readily infer from that that the flare came from somewhere.

“How does it matter how it works? It is a description of a thing giving off flames, smoke or whatever, and the defence will be along the lines of ‘this nasty thing came at me and I kicked it. The scary thing came flying at me and I kicked it.’

“Does it matter if it is a flare, or a smoke bomb, or a pot plant?”

Griffiths was playing for Dundee when he struck rival supporter David Soutar with the pyrotechnic device during a local derby match.

Griffiths started his career at Livingston where he made his debut as a 16-year-old, before moving to Dundee in 2009 for £125,000.

He moved to Wolves for around £150,000 in January 2011 and spent a period on loan with Hibs, where he won the SFWA Footballer of the Year award.

Griffiths then moved to Celtic, where he scored 90 goals in 173 games, and established himself as a regular member of the Scotland squad.

He scored four times in 22 international appearances, including a double against England. He moved back to Dundee on loan before a brief unsuccessful spell with Falkirk.

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