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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 21:37 GMT 22:37 UK
Footballer 'punched out' at youths
Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate denies all charges
A window cleaner has told a court how Leeds footballer Jonathan Woodgate threw "punches" at youths in a street attack.

Andrew Clarke said he saw Mr Woodgate kick out, miss and fall over.

Woodgate was among a group of white men who threw punches at youths before chasing them down Mill Hill, in Leeds, Mr Clarke told the jury at Hull Crown Court.


Jonathan Woodgate jumped back up and tried to carry on with the attack with the others

Window cleaner Andrew Clarke
Mr Woodgate, of Middlesbrough, Leeds United midfielder Lee Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22 and from Middlesbrough, are accused of assaulting student Sarfraz Najeib in Mill Hill in January last year.

The four all deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Najeib, 21, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire. They all also deny affray.

Mr Najeib suffered multiple injuries including a broken nose, fractured leg and a bite mark to his right cheek in the alleged attack.

Confrontation

Mr Clarke said he was in his vehicle on a work break when he saw four or five Asians running towards him followed by four or five white men.

"There was a confrontation - a few seconds of stand-off and then they started trading punches," said Mr Clarke.

"One of them lashed out and tried to kick out at one of the Asians. It was Jonathan Woodgate.

"He missed and fell over. Jonathan Woodgate jumped back up and tried to carry on with the attack with the others."

Mr Clarke said one of the group of Asians was left in the road still being punched when the others ran off.

He eventually ran off pursued by the white youths.

The white group, including Woodgate came out from a side street and went towards the nightclub, he said.

Face 'bloody'

A taxi driver earlier told the jury how he found Mr Najeib struggling to breathe.

Gulfriraz Khan said that he saw the student lying between the pavement and road as he drove his taxi down Mill Hill, in January last year.

"There was blood all around the face and on the pavement," he said.

Mr Khan put Mr Najeib into the recovery position with a woman's help before the ambulance he had radioed for arrived.

Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib had 'trouble breathing'

Mr Khan said earlier he saw an exchange of blows between an Asian and white man outside the nightclub before the Asian started running away.

"The white lads that were chasing him, it was like they could catch him at any time," he said.

"They were just messing about behind him. Like they were making fun of him as they were running behind him."

'Absolutely hammered'

The court also heard from a group of students who were at the nightclub that night.

Ralph Hornibrook said he saw footballers Mr Woodgate, Mr Bowyer, Michael Duberry and Michael Bridges in the VIP area with a group of men.
Lee Bowyer
Lee Bowyer: Accused of attack

But he said he left the area because there was a bit of an "atmosphere".

He said he later saw Mr Bowyer holding champagne or wine "not walking straight and his eyes were half shut".

Desmond de Silva, QC, for Bowyer, said: "I think the phrase you used to the police was that he looked absolutely hammered."

Mr Hornibrook said: "Yes. Correct."

Scuffle

Peter Jackson said he saw Mr Woodgate in the VIP area with four beers.

And another student David Sheridan said there were about 10 in the group, another group came over and a scuffle took place.

Mr Sheridan said Mr Woodgate acted as a peacemaker, adding: "He said something along the lines of 'It's all right lads, there will be no trouble'."

The case was adjourned until Thursday.

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 ON THIS STORY
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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