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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Footballer 'did not make up story'
Leeds United defender Michael Duberry
Michael Duberry is a defender for Leeds United
Leeds United player Michael Duberry has denied accusations that he made up a story implicating his team-mate Jonathan Woodgate in a brutal attack on a student to "save his own skin".

Mr Duberry, 26, was acquitted of a cover-up following the violent attack on Sarfraz Najeib, 21, on 11 January last year. The trial was halted after an article in the Sunday Mirror.

He told the first trial that he lied to police when he was interviewed following the attack to cover up for Mr Woodgate, and that really his team-mate had confessed he had been fighting on the evening Mr Najeib was attacked.

Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate denies all charges
He told the jury at the re-trial at Hull Crown Court that despite his original lies to police, he had told the truth about Mr Woodgate's confession.

Mr Duberry said on Tuesday that he was still friends with his team-mate Mr Woodgate, despite twice giving evidence implicating him in the attack.

Mr Woodgate and his two friends Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney were cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice at the first trial.

At the re-trial David Fish QC, defending Mr Woodgate, accused Mr Duberry of lying about his fellow player.

He said: "You made it up at the last trial to save your own skin - to avoid going to prison. That's the truth isn't it?"

Mr Duberry said: "No. I did not make it up."

Good friend

With regards Mr Woodgate, he told the court: "He's always been my best mate at the club, a good friend.

"I tried my best to say things that would not be damaging to Woody, but I got in deeper and deeper".

"It got to the stage where the truth was the only thing that was going to help myself.

"But it was damaging to Woody and that's what I didn't want."

And he said that he felt "sad" and "gutted" about giving evidence for the prosecution and did not want to be in court.

Mr Woodgate 24, of Middlesbrough, and team-mate Lee Bowyer, 21, of Leeds, are accused of kicking and punching Mr Najeib, during the attack outside the Majestyk nightclub.

They deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Najeib and affray. Mr Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22 and from Middlesbrough, also deny the charges.

Mr Najeib, 21, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, suffered multiple injuries, including a broken leg and bite mark to his right cheek, in the attack.

'Shock'

On Monday Mr Duberry told the jury he had been playing for Leeds United reserves on day of the attack. After the game he returned to Leeds and went to the Majestyk nightclub.

The jury heard that Mr Duberry left the club at 12.50am and saw a group of people across the street, including Mr Woodgate.

He said Mr Woodgate walked with him back towards the club and confessed that he had been in a fight and his friend Mr Clifford had bitten someone.

Mr Woodgate was not allowed back into the club, so Mr Duberry drove him, Mr Clifford, Mr Caveney and two other friends to his home in Woodlesford, Leeds, the court was told.

Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib spent seven days in hospital
Mr Duberry said when they got to his house Michael Bridges, another Leeds United player, rang him on his mobile phone asking if he had seen Mr Woodgate.

The court was told that Mr Woodgate went into the hallway to speak to Mr Bridges.

"Woody came back into the room and explained that the lad was in a bad way, that there was police and ambulance there," said Mr Duberry.

Mr Duberry said Mr Woodgate appeared "shocked" and the room fell silent."

Mr Duberry admitted having lied to police when he was interviewed following the attack, when cross examined by David Fish QC, for Mr Woodgate.

"At the beginning it was just to help Woody out and it just escalated into one big story that wasn't the truth," he told the jury.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday.

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The BBC's Catherine Marston in Hull
"Michael Duberry insists the evidence he is giving to this trial is the truth"

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