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Man who put footballer in coma acted in self defence

Robert Chambers left ex-Dundee FC starlet John Black in a ten-day coma with a fractured skull.

A man who ended a Premiership prospect's football career with a single punch has walked free from court after a jury decided he was acting in self defence.

Robert Chambers, 24, of Dundee, left ex-Dundee FC starlet John Black in a ten-day coma with a fractured skull after punching him following an argument in Dundee's Old Hawkhill on October 8 last year.

A three-day trial at Dundee Sheriff Court heard the men were on separate nights out in Dundee when their groups came together near Dundee University's student union.

An argument flared and Chambers lashed out - sending John backwards to the ground where he smashed his head off the tarmac, causing horrific injuries.

Chambers claimed he had been pushed and was "under threat" and punched John "as a sort of self defence".

John declined to comment on the case after the verdict was read - but his mother, June, blasted Chambers and the jury for finding the charge not proven.

June, who lost soldier son Aaron at the age of 22 in 2011 when he took his own life after struggling to cope with the horrors of the Afghan war, said: "While that group were off to a party, while Chambers was off looking for something to eat, I was being blue lighted to Ninewells Hospital.

"The neurosurgeon told me there were only three outcomes for John - he'd died, he'd wake up with severe brain damage or he'd wake up normal.

"Chambers was telling his witnesses to say they didn't remember anything, to say it was all a blur because they were too drunk.

"Not one witness said John pushed him except for Robert Chambers.

"He's a big guy, he's older than John and he's saying he was scared of him? He could have walked away.

"The neurosurgeon told me there were only three outcomes for John - he'd died, he'd wake up with severe brain damage or he'd wake up normal."
John Black's mother June

"How can that jury say it's not proven? I don't get it.

"They have discredited the witnesses' statements - they have disregarded all of that.

"I could cry for my son just now.

"I couldn't handle another trauma - if I'd lost John as well I wouldn't be here now."

The trial heard John was on a night out with friends, including Dundee United star Jamie Robson, when the incident took place around 2.30am on October 8 last year.

Witnesses said the atmosphere was "happy" but suddenly changed as an argument flared.

Another reveller got in between Chambers and John to separate them - but Chambers then threw a punch, flooring John.

Chambers then left the scene as his best friend, Jack Rodger, tended to John and waited on the ambulance.

Giving evidence, Mr Black told the trial he had previously been a professional footballer for Dundee FC before being released and was working on his fitness in an attempt to return to the game when the incident occurred.

"The surgeons had to remove a chunk of my skull to allow my brain to swell."
John Black

He said he had been out with friends in Blairgowrie on the evening of the attack - but remembered nothing after his group left the Perthshire town to head to Dundee.

Mr Black choked back tears as he described the effects of his horror injuries - at one stage being asked to leave the witness box to show his scars up close to jurors.

He said: "I was in a coma for ten days.

"I was trying to get back into football, bulking up and going to the gym.

"I lost all my strength and my balance and co-ordination was ridiculous.

"The surgeons had to remove a chunk of my skull to allow my brain to swell.

"They couldn't wake me up because of the pressure on my brain.

"I later had to have more surgery to put an acrylic plate in.

"I can't do things I do before and I can't go back to playing professional football again.

"I can't head a ball - any impact on my head could be fatal."

Chambers went to a local bakery to try and get food - but then went to a friend's house to sleep off his alcohol intake.

He then went on Facebook messenger in the morning and, writing under his pseudonym, The Notorious Chambo, told Mr Rodger to "relax".

He added: "All you say is you can't remember, that's all."

Chambers denied a charge of assault to severe injury, permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment and danger of life.

It was alleged that on October 8 last year at Old Hawkhill, Dundee, Chambers punched John Black to toe head causing him to fall back, striking his head on the ground.

A jury of eight men and seven women took an hour to find the charge not proven by a majority.

Sheriff Tom Hughes told Chambers: "This charge has been found not proven, you have been acquitted, and you are free to go."

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