Hughes returns to football after jail term

August 28, 2007

OLDHAM, England, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Lee Hughes returned to English soccer on Tuesday, signing for third-division Oldham after spending three years in jail for killing a man in a car crash.

Hughes, 31, spoke of his remorse after serving half of a six-year sentence after being convicted of death by dangerous driving.

His trial was told the player had been for a post-match drink when his Mercedes car was involved in a crash in which the man, Douglas Graham, died in 2003. Hughes ran away from the scene before reporting for a breath test 36 hours later.

'This is the first time I have been able to make a public apology for my actions,' the former West Bromwich Albion and Coventry forward told a news conference after signing a two-year deal with Oldham.

'I have made dreadful mistakes and decisions that will live with me for the rest of my life. If I could turn back time I would but I can't. I can only apologise so much. I keep saying sorry but I know that's not good enough for people that will not forgive me.'

Hughes has met his victim's daughter and has written a letter to another man injured in the crash.

He said he also intended to visit Premier League clubs to talk to young players about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Oldham managing director Simon Corney said: 'While we are not condoning what Lee has done, he has to be allowed to get on with his life. He is earning less than a tenth of his former wages and deserves a chance to move on.'