05/03/2012 16:17 GMT

Max Evans, Scotland Rugby Star, Cleared Of Nightclub Attack

Scotland rugby star Max Evans was today cleared of glassing a man in the face at a nightclub.

The 28-year-old former Glasgow Warriors player was accused of assaulting Alasdair McCaig to his severe injury and permanent impairment at Edinburgh's Lulu nightclub on August 1 2010.

Evans denied the charge and said he had acted in self-defence after being punched by the 29-year-old.

A jury took less than an hour to return a verdict of not guilty after a five-day trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Mr McCaig, who works in property development, told the court he was drinking champagne with his sister and an old school friend at the bar of the club's VIP area when he was struck in the face with a "sharp blow".

He said he was "taken by surprise" by the incident, which left him bleeding.

He claimed Evans was the man who hit him and insisted he had not known who he was at the time.

However, the sportsman said he had simply reacted to defend himself after feeling "threatened" by Mr McCaig.

He said he was punched by Mr McCaig and thought he was "coming for me", and had not intended for a glass to be used in the fracas.

Evans told the court he first became aware of Mr McCaig when he called out "something insulting".

He told jurors the comment was: "Evans, what are you doing here? F*** off back to Glasgow."

The sportsman said he ignored the remark but that further "insulting comments" were directed at him for around 20 minutes, including a remark that he was a "faggot" and his brother "a pussy".

The rugby star, who was in the company of Sarah Jane Bell, a nanny, at the time, also said they had been nudged and pushed by Mr McCaig.

Mr McCaig denied lashing out at Evans but accepted it was possible his injury was a result of his "behaviour", starting off with "verbal insults".

He was treated at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for a laceration to his eyebrow, which a doctor described as being "entirely superficial", the court was told.

The prosecution claimed a "red mist" had descended on Evans during the nightclub incident and argued no other witness was able to support Evans' assertion that he had been punched first of all by Mr McCaig.

But the rugby star's legal team argued Mr McCaig, the prosecution's "star witness", was "manifestly incredible and unreliable".

Evans, who now plays for French side Castres, has about 25 caps for his country and has also played for London teams Harlequins and London Scottish.

Giving evidence at the trial, he broke down in court as he recalled how his brother suffered a life-threatening injury during an international game.

Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie told Evans: "The jury verdict is one of not guilty. The case against you is dismissed and you can leave the dock."

Evans smiled and shook hands with those who had accompanied him to court today. He is expected to release a formal statement later.