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27-Apr-12, 14:24
Sheriff fines songster 800 for disgraceful behaviour

PASSENGERS on a northbound Highland train were forced to take refuge in another coach after they were unable to tolerate raucous Rangers football songs sung by two Thurso men.
Graham Smith (28) and 42-year-old Stuart McCracken admitted abusive behaviour, described by that sheriff at Wick today as “disgraceful”. He fined Smith 800. McCracken of Whitefield House, Thurso, had his case continued for a personal appearance.
The court heard that despite the nature of the songs, the pair had not been returning from a football match on the day in question, February 14.
They were described as “under the influence of drink” and not only had a supply with them, but purchased miniatures of alcohol from the refreshments trolley as the evening train made its way north on February 14.
Senior fiscal depute, David Barclay said that there was no problem, initially, but things began to get louder and louder until the duo “passed the point of no return”, launching into football songs, sounding an allegiance to Rangers F.C.
The performance was not appreciated by other travellers in the coach and when requested to “quieten down” were ignored, 16 passengers, some of whom were children, re-located in another carriage to avoid further disturbance.
Mr Barclay made the point that this was their only course of action as they were, in effect, a captive audience.
He said that things quietened down after one of the accused got off the train, ahead of the other and added that it appeared that each of them had been the catalyst for the other, in their behaviour.
Mr Barclay said that Smith, of Strathy House, Thurso, told police he had only journeyed to Inverness that day to get contact lenses. He had never been to a Rangers game in his life but knew the songs. He said he had drunk “far too much” but accepted this was not an excuse.
Solicitor Neil Wilson said that Smith, an offshore worker, was “thoroughly ashamed” of his conduct which he appreciated would have been “thoroughly” unpleasant for his fellow passengers. The pair had “fed off the bravado of the other” while singing.
Sheriff Berry said he could not imagine a more unenviable situation that being stuck on a train and being subjected to such conduct which had forced other passenger to move away and described it as “disgraceful”. The sheriff expressed the hope the ‘significant’ fine would underline the seriousness of the offence and also serve as a warning to other contemplating such behaviour.
McKracken will be sentenced on May 25.