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Monday, 15 October, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Footballers 'joined attack' on student
Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate is an England international
Leeds United players Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer were among a group of youths who chased and beat a student after a night out drinking, the re-trial of the two players has been told.

Mr Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, and Mr Woodgate, 21, of Middlesbrough, are charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Sarfraz Najeib, 21, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, as well as affray.

The two men deny all the charges as do their co-defendants Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22 and from Middlesbrough.


In this case there has been inaccurate reporting

Mr Justice Henriques
The players' first trial collapsed in April this year following the publication of a newspaper article printed in the Sunday Mirror.

The judge, Mr Justice Henriques, told the jury at Hull Crown Court to put out of their minds anything they had heard, seen or read relating to the defendants.

"This trial begins now," he said.

"When those in the public eye, footballers, politicians and celebrities, face criminal charges against them, much is written and much is broadcast.

"Unhappily, some of it is untrue and in this case there has been inaccurate reporting."

'Team Loyalties'

"The simple issue for your determination is who did it."

Opening the case for the prosecution, Nicholas Campbell QC said that the four defendants had been enjoying a night out drinking on 11 January last year, before the assault on Mr Najeib at 0030GMT the following morning.

Mr Woodgate's friend James Hewison - who is not on trial - had been drinking and had to be escorted from Majestyk nightclub in Leeds city centre by doormen, the court heard.

Mr Campbell said there then followed a confrontation outside the club with Mr Najeib and a group of his friends, who had not been drinking and had been involved in "no trouble whatsoever".

"You will hear various accounts of what took place," Mr Campbell said.

"What is agreed is suddenly the students ran off and they were chased by a group of white men.

"The prosecution say that each of these four defendants took part in this chase.

"In due course the chasing group caught up with the Asian students and one of them was seriously hurt."

Lee Bowyer
Lee Bowyer plays for England under-21s
He said the defendants made good their escape before the arrival of police and ambulance.

Mr Campbell told the court that what took place was further fuelled by the loyalties that exist between team-mates and the loyalty that exists between old friends.

Mr Woodgate and his group had been to two pubs, a wine bar and a lap-dancing club before meeting up at the Majestyk with Mr Bowyer, who was enjoying a night out with Leeds United colleagues Harry Kewell, Michael Bridges and an Australian friend of Kewell's, the prosecution said.

Mr Campbell told the court there had been some trouble in the various pubs Mr Woodgate and his group had visited.

The group containing Mr Bowyer had also been spoken to earlier in the evening because two of them were misbehaving, although Mr Bowyer had not played a part, the court heard.

Mr Campbell said: "It is important that you know about these matters not because they reflect particularly badly on any individual defendant but because it is clear these defendants were not entirely frank with the police about the earlier troubles."

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