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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Remorseful Hughes makes apology
Lee Hughes
Lee Hughes was jailed in 2004
Oldham striker Lee Hughes has made a public apology on returning to football after his release from jail.

The former West Bromwich Albion player, 31, signed a two-year deal with Oldham after three years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

"This is the first time I've been able to make a public apology. I hope for a chance to rebuild my life," he said.

Hughes was jailed in 2004 for causing the death of father-of-four Douglas Graham in Meriden, near Coventry.

The striker played for Kidderminster Harriers, Coventry City and West Bromwich Albion during a promising career before his imprisonment.

His trial at Coventry Crown Court was told how he crashed his 100,000 Mercedes sports car into Mr Graham's vehicle while driving home after a post-match drink.

He fled the scene of the crash on foot to avoid a breath test and did not turn himself into police for 36 hours.

Hughes, who has now joined League One side Oldham, said: "I'm acutely aware of my actions, which resulted in the death of one person and serious injury to others."

The striker said he did not want to talk about his offence out of respect for the family of the victims involved.

606: DEBATE
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"In going some way to facing my responsibilities I have met with a relative of the man who died, and what was said will always remain a private and personal matter," he said.

"For different reasons I think we were both glad that the meeting occurred."

Hughes added: "After today I do not intend to discuss or make comment about the events which led to my imprisonment.

"I have made this decision, not out of protection for myself, but with regard to the privacy and respect for the families involved.

"I made dreadful mistakes and decisions that will live with me for the rest of my life.

"It also greatly affected my immediate family, including my wife and children, and I will never forgive myself for this."

Hughes praised the way Oldham acted in persuading him to join them, even though other clubs were interested in his services, and said he wanted to help repay them on the pitch.

He has got no remorse

Crash victim Albert Frisby

"Turning to the reason I am here, I am grateful to Oldham for giving me the chance to resurrect my career," he said.

"Negotiations have been going on for months and I can tell you that other clubs, some in the Championship, wanted me to join them."

Hughes also insisted he is determined to carry out community work to help others avoid the mistakes he has made.

"Whilst it is not part of my contract it has always been my intention to do some community work centred on the mistakes I have made, in the hope that it can go some way to preventing another tragedy occurring," said Hughes.

"I truly want to do this and will be visiting schools, colleges and other football clubs to speak to young people.

"If by doing this I help or persuade people not to make the mistakes I have made I will be a happier person.

"I am prepared to take responsibility for anything that comes my way during my re-entry into the football world.

"Out of respect for those families concerned, including my own, I would ask that I be allowed only to comment in the future about football matters and rebuild my life around the job I do.

"To the Oldham fans, I am here to help the club achieve its ambitions and hope you can help along the way."

But the player's return was criticised by Albert Frisby, who was injured in the crash which led to Hughes being sent to prison.

"He has got no remorse," said Frisby. "To me he is very arrogant and ignorant.

"I've just got no time for the fellow. The only people I feel sorry for are his two kiddies.

"They've got to suffer the abuse that he's going to be called, or whatever, so it's just devastation all round."



SEE ALSO
Hughes to be unveiled at Oldham
28 Aug 07 |  West Midlands
Jailed footballer Hughes released
20 Aug 07 |  West Midlands
Hughes secures parole from prison
20 Aug 07 |  Football
Ex-player banned from prison team
14 Mar 05 |  West Midlands
Hughes contract cancelled
09 Aug 04 |  West Bromwich Albion
Hughes' dream career ends in nightmare
09 Aug 04 |  Coventry/Warwickshire


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