Apologetic Parlour fined and facing club wrath after admitting assault

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 May, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 May, 1995, 12:00am

ARSENAL football star Ray Parlour apologised to the people of Hong Kong yesterday after being fined for drunkenly punching a 65-year-old taxi driver in Wan Chai.

Parlour, 22, celebrated the English Premier League team's victory over Rangers on Saturday with an all-night drinking session during which he consumed at least 12 pints of beer.

He punched taxi driver Lai Pak-yan on the nose, knocking him to the ground and leaving him needing five stitches.

The attack came after Parlour tossed a packet of prawn crackers into the open bonnet of Mr Lai's parked taxi.

After being hit Mr Lai got up and chased Parlour who was finally arrested at the junction of Fenwick Street and Gloucester Road by a policeman on a motorcycle.

Parlour pleaded guilty at Eastern Court to assaulting Mr Lai causing him actual bodily harm.

He appeared in court wearing the club blazer and tie and was accompanied by an Arsenal official.

Magistrate Yung Yiu-wing fined him $2,000 and ordered him to pay $2,000 compensation to Mr Lai.

Parlour's barrister, Adrian Huggins QC, said the player was ashamed of his behaviour.

'He wishes to apologise to Mr Lai and to Hong Kong, which has played host in the last week to the internationally-famous football team of which he is a member.

'The club will not tolerate its players bringing the game into disrepute,' said Mr Huggins. 'His future at the club is on the line. The club is extremely annoyed about this incident.

'He wishes me to say that he is very, very sorry for this incident for which he has no one to blame but himself. He was very drunk and behaved very badly.' The Arsenal players attended an official celebration after their 4-0 win over Rangers at Hong Kong Stadium. Parlour came on as a substitute and played for the whole of the second half.

Parlour and two of his teammates, who were not named in court, then headed for the Hard Rock Cafe before going on a pub crawl in Wan Chai.

They ended up at the Big Apple nightclub and it was only when they left, at around 8.15 am, that trouble flared.

Mr Lai, who was minding his own business, became extremely upset when he saw Parlour using his taxi as a bin. The court heard he shouted at the player and there was some pushing before Parlour punched him.

The footballer spent most of the rest of the day in a police cell. He was bailed late in the evening.

Parlour, an attacking midfielder with more than 30 first team appearances in the last season, will be disciplined by Arsenal when he returns to Britain. Mr Huggins told the court Parlour earned GBP600 (HK$7,320) a week and would be fined two weeks' wages and lose the GBP3,000 bonus paid to the players on the tour, a total of about HK$52,000.

The two teammates with him were questioned by defence lawyers but admitted they were so drunk they could remember little about the incident except that Parlour had been 'larking about with some prawn crackers'.

'He was completely out of line and he knows it,' Mr Huggins said.

Magistrate Yung Yiu-wing said: 'You deserve some leniency because you are genuinely remorseful and prepared to take all the responsibility yourself. I will give you a chance.' Parlour made little comment as he left the court.

His solicitor, Nigel Francis, said the player would leave Hong Kong as soon as a flight could be arranged. The rest of the team left the territory on Sunday.

A British barman, Thomas Martyn, 27, from Western, was said to have joined the Arsenal players on their night out. He denied a charge of assaulting a policeman near the scene of the incident. He was released on $500 bail, fined $200 for arriving late at court, and will go on trial in August.