A COP who shoved a man over a fence during a disturbance in Barrhead town centre has walked free from court after a judge ruled he didn’t use “excessive force.”

Constable Richard Hardcastle, 25, was said to have left Sean McNeil, 28, injured after attacking him in Cross Arthurlie Street.

However, the officer denied assaulting Mr McNeil, who was a coach with Arthurlie Juniors’ under-19s team at the time of the incident on April 9, 2017.

Mr McNeil was rushed to hospital after being pushed over a set of railings and falling backwards, striking his head off the ground.

He underwent a CT scan at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital before being released hours later.

Mr McNeil said he had joined some Arthurlie players and others at the Arthurlie Social Club and then the Arthurlie Inns for drinks after watching the Grand National.

He told Paisley Sheriff Court he had enjoyed between six and eight pints of lager and “was merry but definitely not drunk” when a fight broke out at the Arthurlie Inns.

Mr McNeil said he was asked to leave the pub and, once outside, spoke to police officers who arrived to investigate the disturbance.

The court was told that, during his conversation with the officers, Mr McNeil was pushed over railings at the side of the pavement.

Read more: Punch from cop ‘sent man flying over fence’

Mortgage advisor Mr McNeil, who said he is 6ft 4ins tall and weighed 18st 2lbs at the time, explained: “The next thing I can remember is the male police officer pushing me.

“It was just out of nowhere, really.”

Mr McNeil told the court he must have been pushed “pretty hard” to send him over the railings.

He added. “I really don’t think I was doing anything to warrant that.”

Defence solicitor Pamela Rodgers asked Sheriff Hugh McGinty to acquit her client, pointing out the judge had to decide whether the push had been an “excessive use of force” to prove he was guilty of assault, due to the fact he was on duty and dealing with an incident at the time.

She added: “It was not his intention at any time to injure Mr McNeil or to have him fall over a fence.”

After leaving the bench for 20 minutes to decide on a verdict, Sheriff McGinty found PC Hardcastle not guilty.

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