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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 19:02 GMT 20:02 UK
Student 'feared for his life'
Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib suffered multiple injuries
A student has told a jury he "feared for his life" as he was chased by a group of men allegedly headed by two Leeds United footballers.

England defender Jonathan Woodgate and England U-21 midfielder Lee Bowyer are accused of kicking and punching Sarfraz Najeib, 21, during a street attack in Leeds in January last year.

I thought they wanted to beat me up so I was running away from them

Sarfraz Najeib

On the second day of the re-trial at Hull Crown Court, Mr Najeib, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire said: "I was running for my life. I was really frightened, really scared."

Mr Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, and Mr Woodgate, 21, of Middlesbrough, deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Najeib and affray.

Two of Mr Woodgate's friends, Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22 and from Middlesbrough, also deny the charges.

The jury at Hull Crown Court were shown photographs of injuries sustained by Mr Najeib, who was left unconscious after the assault.

'Hit to the floor'

The prosecution claims CCTV footage shows the two soccer stars leading the group chasing Mr Najeib from the Majestyk nightclub and into Mill Hill.

Mr Najeib told the jury that when he left the nightclub in the early hours of 12 January 2000 after an evening out with his brother and two friends, he saw a group of men "messing about" outside.
Lee Bowyer outside court on 15 October:
Lee Bowyer: Denies all charges

The former Leeds Metropolitan University student, then aged 19, was hit to the floor from behind by one of the group, the court heard.

He said he got up quickly to see the man coming towards him again "with his fists clenched".

The court heard that Mr Najeib hit the man above the eye, before fleeing with his brother and their friends towards Mill Hill where they had parked their car.

"I thought they wanted to beat me up so I was running away from them," he said.

Extensive injuries

The student told the court somebody then tripped him up from behind.

"I think I hit my head on the wall and I was unconscious after that," he told the court.

"I do not recall anything after that."

Mr Najeib, whose injuries included a fractured leg, broken nose, fractured cheekbone and a bite mark to his right cheek, spent seven days in Leeds Infirmary recovering from the attack.

Mr Bowyer, Mr Woodgate, Mr Clifford and Mr Caveney had been on a night out in Leeds on 11 January last year.

Nicholas Campbell QC, prosecuting, said that after the assault Lee Bowyer was the first to return to the Majestyk club where he was the only one allowed back in.
Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate says he "saw no trouble" outside the nightclub

Mr Campbell said Mr Woodgate and his four friends, including Mr Clifford and Mr Caveney, then got into the Range Rover of another Leeds player Michael Duberry, who drove them to his home in Woodlesford about six miles away.

They later returned to their city centre hotel, where they were staying for the night.

Mr Bowyer had in the meantime been given a lift from Leeds to his home in nearby Wetherby.

'Lied to police'

The jury was told that Mr Woodgate and Mr Bowyer told "untruths" to police when the pair were arrested six days after the assault.

Adrian Waterman, junior prosecution counsel, said Mr Woodgate told officers he saw no trouble outside the club, but saw a group running away and followed them because he was "being nosey".

In a later interview, he changed his story and said he had seen a fracas outside the club, the court heard.

Mr Bowyer told police that he had been assaulted in Boar Lane and had not taken part in any attack.

Both players claimed they were at the back of the chasing group, the court was told.

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

The trial continues.

See also:

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