Rufus McLean banned from contacting ex for 10 years but avoids jail

Scottish rugby star Rufus McLean is banned from contacting his ex for 10 years but avoids jail after admitting shouting at and shoving her, telling her to what to wear and tracking her via mobile phone

  • Rufus McLean, 22, has been given 120 hours community service
  • The Scottish rugby star admitted domestically abusing his ex-girlfriend 
  • McLean has been banned from contacting Cara Haston, 21, for ten years

Scottish rugby star Rufus McLean has been banned from contacting his ex-girlfriend for ten years and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work after he admitted pushing, hurling abuse at her, and tracking her mobile phone.  

McLean, 22, was given the community payback order at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Thursday after he admitted abusing Cara Haston, 21, over a period of almost two years.

As part of his sentence, McLean made subject to a non-harassment order to not contact his former partner for 10 years.

The 13-stone player, who has been capped three times for Scotland, had admitted leaving his victim, from Edinburgh, with a burst lip and black eye after pushing her off him during one incident. 

He also called her a b***h and a s*** and sent her abusive text and social media messages, the court heard. 

Rufus McLean, 22, was ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid community work and made subject to a 10 year non harassment order

McLean tracked his ex-girlfriend Cara Haston’s (pictured) phone and was abusive to her 

He also called her a b**** and a s*** and sent her abusive text and social media messages

Following his guilty plea, he was suspended by his club Glasgow Warriors with immediate affect and has had no contact with the club since then, and his career hangs in the balance.

Cara, who studied at Northumbria University, described McLean as ’emotionally abusive and controlling’. 

READ MORE: Rufus McLean’s shocking 20-month campaign of domestic abuse against his ex-girlfriend 


The court was previously told she was on a Spanish holiday in the summer of 2019 when McLean saw a photograph of her on social media and ‘took exception’ to what she was wearing.

McLean messaged to say she looked like a ‘s***’ and told her to change, but his girlfriend refused to do so and went out.

He was said to have then started sending messages to her and her friends using derogatory language.

In another incident in January 2021, the couple were in McLean’s Glasgow flat when she woke him up to talk.

McLean reacted by pushing her away, causing her lip to be burst and a black eye to appear, the court heard.

She was left ‘frightened’ by the incident and photographed her injuries to show her mother.

On March 11, 2020, the pair were in Edinburgh when McLean saw a photo on social media of his girlfriend along with a man with whom she had previously gone out on a date, at a time when she and McLean were not in a relationship.

An ‘irate’ McLean was said to have pushed her over and ‘continued to shout at her and she pleaded with him to stop’.

After getting up, the victim was said to have followed him and he ‘grabbed her wrist and pushed her back’.

McLean left and police were alerted to an ‘ongoing domestic incident’.

Officers attended and found the woman crying and suffering from redness to her arm.

Sheriff Matthew Auchincloss said McLean’s behaviour was ‘aggressive’ and ‘controlling’.

‘The abuse our daughter suffered is heartbreaking’

In a statement issued following the sentencing, the Haston family said: ‘We are relieved that this four-year ordeal has come to a conclusion and would like to thank Police Scotland and the procurator fiscal’s office for their support and professionalism.

‘Throughout this process we have maintained a dignified silence but have had to endure more pain and suffering than any family should.

‘To be confronted by the knowledge that our daughter Cara has suffered serious abuse – under Section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Act – over such a prolonged period of time at the hands of the defendant is heart-breaking.

‘Cara’s life has stood still, and so has that of our family. Unbelievably, Cara has had to endure continued verbal abuse from members of the rugby community.

‘She is the victim, yet it seems that there still remain some young players who do not understand that when a defendant pleads guilty, it is an admission of wrongdoing.

‘In the case of Rufus McLean, it means serious abuse of a woman, verbally or otherwise, is totally unacceptable and deserves an appropriate response.’

Addressing McLean, who was dressed in a blazer and black trousers in the dock, he said: ‘You may not have intended to cause harm, however due to the extended period of time… you should have known there was a risk of harm from your behaviour.

‘This behaviour has caused significant harm to your former partner.

‘The threshold for a custodial sentence has been passed.’

However the sheriff said there was an appropriate alternative to custody.

The court heard the usual amount of hours of unpaid work given in a community payback order following a trial is 200 hours.

But because McLean is considered a young person, the hours are reduced to 150.

Sheriff Auchincloss reduced that further to 120 hours, to be completed over nine months, given McLean’s age and early guilty plea.

He added: ‘As a young person you have greater capacity to change… I recognise the dynamics of your relationship may have been difficult. You have shown remorse and shame from your behaviour.’

McLean, of Gordon in Berwickshire, who earned three caps in his career, admitted the domestic abuse of Ms Haston between April 2019 and January 2021.

The charge of domestic abuse against him said he repeatedly shouted, swore and acted aggressively towards her.

It also said he told her what clothes she could and could not wear, and requested passwords for her social media accounts.

At an earlier hearing, McLean admitted controlling Ms Haston’s movements and insisting she enabled location tracking services on her phone.

He also admitted pushing her to her injury, repeatedly calling her derogatory and offensive names, sending abusive messages, and telling her who she could and could not meet.

Cara Haston’s family have said the abuse she suffered was heartbreaking

Cara described 5ft 10in McLean, of Glasgow, as ’emotionally abusive and controlling’ (pictured together) 

McLean, who made his senior Scotland debut in October 2021 against Tonga pictured outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court in January 

McLean’s solicitor, Iain Smith, previously said in court his client was willing to be educated and that the consequences of his offending had already been significant.

He said McLean has lost his job and income, and his dreams of playing for his country have come to an end.

Mr Smith said there is no doubt McLean would be in the current Scotland squad had it not been for his conviction, and that the offences largely took place when he was still a teenager.

Sheriff Auchincloss was also told McLean has expressed regret for his actions.

After McLean admitted the offences, his club Glasgow Warriors terminated his contract with immediate effect.

Following an internal disciplinary hearing in conjunction with Scottish Rugby, the club said it had sacked the player on grounds of ‘gross misconduct’ and ‘breach of contract’.

At the time, Warriors managing director Al Kellock said: ‘Rufus admitted domestic abuse and his actions cannot be condoned, which has resulted in his employment with Glasgow Warriors ending.

‘We have taken this matter extremely seriously. Sadly, with any crime there is a victim and as a club we want to acknowledge the impact on the young woman involved.

‘We are committed to ensuring our players continue to be positive role models and recognise the privileged positions they hold.’

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