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Thursday, 25 October, 2001, 22:13 GMT 23:13 UK
Leeds witness 'wrong' about attack
Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate denies all charges
A window cleaner feared that football fans would attack his family after he gave evidence against one of the club's star players, a court has heard.

Andrew Clarke, who told a court that he saw Jonathan Woodgate "lash out" at an Asian youth, said he thought Leeds supporters would attack him after seeing his photograph in the press.

But he admitted not including his claim that the footballer tried to kick a group of Asians in Leeds city centre in two earlier police statements.


My first concern was for my family, not football - football doesn't mean anything to me any more

Andrew Clarke
Mr Woodgate's lawyer, David Fish QC, accused Mr Clarke of giving a "wholly inaccurate" account to Hull Crown Court.

Mr Woodgate, of Middlesbrough, team-mate Lee Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, and Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22, of Middlesbrough, deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Sarfraz Najeib, 21, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire. They also deny affray.

Mr Najeib suffered a broken nose, fractured leg and a bite to the cheek during an attack last year.

Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib 'seriously injured'
Mr Clarke told police he was parked in his van at the time of the incident, and that he saw a group of men, including Mr Woodgate, chase some Asian youths.

He told the court on Thursday that he was worried about what he said because it could have implications for his family and friends.

"I did not want to give a statement. I work in Leeds 80% of the time and late at night and I was worried about implications when it came out who I was, and with my photograph in the press."

He did not want his three young children to be taunted, he said.

"My first concern was for my family, not football. Football doesn't mean anything to me any more.


I suggest to you that you are wrong and that Jonathan Woodgate was involved in no violence that night

David Fish QC
"This has gone on for 18 months of my life. I'd just rather not know about football any more, or Leeds United."

In police statements after the incident, Mr Clarke told police the 21-year-old footballer slipped or tripped and fell - but not that it happened when he was trying to kick one of the youths.

He told the court that he did not realise his claim that he had seen Mr Woodgate "lashing out and kicking" was not in the statements.

Lee Bowyer
Lee Bowyer: Accused of attack
Mr Fish said: "I suggest to you that you are wrong and that Jonathan Woodgate was involved in no violence that night."

Mr Clarke, a Leeds United fan, said he had no idea if Woodgate's Leeds United colleague Lee Bowyer was among the group of white men he had seen.

Mr Fish said: "I suggest that he [Mr Woodgate] ran towards you and slipped or tripped and fell and hurt his ankle, as you said in your statement to police."

Mr Clarke replied: "No. He was lashing out and kicking."

Mr Clarke said he had not returned to Leeds United's Elland Road stadium since the incident because he "didn't think he would be a very popular figure" after giving evidence against players.

He denied that he had any reason to tell lies for Mr Woodgate or to mislead police or the court.

The trial was adjourned until Friday.


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