Tayside and Central Scotland

Athlete Liz McColgan cleared of attacking husband

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLiz McColgan: "Today has proved that I am on my way to a new life"

Scottish track legend Liz McColgan has been found not guilty of assaulting her estranged husband at their home.

A sheriff dismissed claims by Peter McColgan - a former Northern Ireland steeplechaser - that she had punched and "prodded" him in July this year.

Olympic medal winner Mrs McColgan, 47, had always denied the attack.

The pair separated in late 2010 after 22 years of marriage, but were still sharing the family home in Carnoustie, Angus.

A second charge of breach of the peace was also dropped against Mrs McColgan at Abroath Sheriff Court.

The runner, who took Olympic silver in Seoul in 1988, was cleared after Sheriff Derek Pyle heard defence submissions that Mr McColgan's evidence was not credible or reliable.

Defence solicitor George Donnelly said the former Northern Irish international steeplechaser had been "shifty and conniving" and made up allegations that Mrs McColgan had assaulted him during an alleged spat "to ruin her career".

Image caption Peter McColgan claimed his wife had punched and "prodded" him

Mr McColgan, 48, admitted he had used spyware to check up on his wife on Facebook and had sent anonymous texts to a man he suspected of cheating with her.

Then he got his solicitor to write to her suggesting they should sell their luxury home, the court heard.

He claimed she had stormed home and assaulted her in front of their four youngest children.

Mr McColgan alleged to the court: "She said I should stop 'fannying about' and got right into my face. She started prodding me in the stomach and did two punches to the left side of my face, just under the ear.

"My 11 year old son and six year old were very distressed and shouted - 'Mum what are you doing?'"

But Mr Donnelly said Mr McColgan had made no mention of a slap or bruising until the next day.

"My submissions is that he is not credible or reliable," he said.

At the end of a trial which lasted barely more than two hours, Sheriff Pyle told Mrs McColgan: "I have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt. I am not satisfied - and I find you not guilty of assault."

The sheriff said that the prosecution was not seeking a conviction on a second charge relating to throwing Mr McColgan's clothes out of the window - something which depute fiscal Liz Miller had said she now thought "did not amount to a crime".

He added: "You are free to go."

'Difficult life'

Outside court, Mrs McColgan, who did not give evidence, said: "This shows me I am on my way to a new life and away from someone who has tried to control me or control what I have done.

"There are men who really are being beaten up by their wives, and for him to pretend that happened, and portray me in that way, is a disgrace.

"This has been a really hard six months for me and my family. There's a lot more to this story. It's been a difficult life with Peter McColgan."

The McColgans announced an "amicable" split late last year, continuing to live at Panbridge House Lodge with their four youngest children and run it as a health centre.

Mrs McColgan - previously Liz Lynch - shot to fame in the late 1980s, taking home Commonwealth Gold at the 1986 games in Edinburgh and Olympic silver at the 1988 Seoul games, both in the 10,000m.

She went on to win gold in the same event at the 1991 World Championships.

Mrs McColgan then repeated her Commonwealth success in the 1990 Auckland games - landing another gold.

The runner, who was brought up in Dundee, married Mr McColgan in 1987.

He had represented Northern Ireland at the 1986 Commonwealth Games at both 5,000m and the 3,000m steeplechase - at which distance he holds the Northern Ireland record.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites