A CLOSE friend of Ranger star Kenny Miller has walked free from court after being cleared of extortion and violence threats.
William Steele, 36, was alleged to have demanded £95,000 from two men following a bust-up involving Mr Miller and his wife Laura.
Steele, of Eaglesham, also faced claims he had been seen with a knife in a restaurant car park after the Millers had been caught up in a fight hours after an Old Firm game.
But he walked free after a jury found a charge that he was in possession of a knife not proven and found him not guilty of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner in September last year.
Mr Miller and his wife were both in court supporting Steele as the verdicts were read out.
His trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court had earlier seen prosecutors drop the extortion charges.
Depute fiscal Michael McIntosh had urged the jury to convict Steele and told them the Millers had come to court to get their friend off the hook.
He added: “The reason Billy Steele had a knife, why he was so angry, is one of his closest friends had just been assaulted and he wasn’t going to let it lie.
“He did it out of loyalty to the Millers and quite simply put, during the course of this trial, the Millers have simply returned that favour.
“He was there to sort things out for his friends but the Millers did not want to tell you that.
“If you are satisfied that Billy Steele is guilty of the charges before you, then it will be your duty to convict him and show him that no matter what famous friends he can get along to court, he cannot get away with carrying a knife on our streets.”
Neal McShane, defending, said the evidence against Steele was weak and that his client should be acquitted.
He added: “In this case, there is evidence which has contradictions and discrepancies all over the place.
“Mr Steele is facing extremely serious charges on indictment and you cannot be swayed in any way by evidence you have heard on the extortion charges which are no longer before you.
“If you are satisfied he did have a knife, you also have to be satisfied he had it with intent that he had it to do harm.
“The Millers are certain he did not have a knife, their evidence on that was clear, concise and truthful and if you accept it then you must acquit because quite simply, in my submission, he did not get out of that car with a knife.”
Following the verdict, Laura Miller told her Twitter followers: “Liars always unravel themselves. Stay good and truthful and everything else takes care of itself.”
Source : HeraldScotland