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EDITIONS
Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 18:28 GMT
Student 'punched footballers' friend'
Lee Bowyer attending court
The footballers deny all charges
A night club doorman told the jury in the trial of two Leeds United footballers accused of assualting a student that a group of Asians had taunted one of their friends shortly before the alleged victim was attacked.

Club doorman Graeme Lawson said the youths were involved in a confrontation with Jonathan Woodgate's friend James Hewison, who had just been ejected from the Majestyk nightspot in Leeds for drunken behaviour.

Mr Lawson told Hull Crown Court that Mr Hewison had "squared up" to the group before one of them punched him in the face and then "bounced" round him provocatively.

Mr Woodgate, 21, of Middlesbrough, Mr Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, and Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22 and from Middlesbrough, all deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Sarfraz Najeib, 21, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The men also deny affray.

Mr Lawson said: "The lad who had punched Mr Woodgate's friend started bouncing around like Prince Naseem, thinking he was going to do it again.

"The lad who had punched Mr Woodgate's friend started bouncing around like Prince Naseem"

Doorman Graeme Lawson

"But when his friends ran off, he followed them," Mr Lawson said.

The trial of Mr Woodgate, team-mate Lee Bowyer and two other men charged with attacking Mr Najeib heard that a chase followed the confrontation, ending with the victim being attacked in nearby Mill Hill.

Witnesses have described Mr Najeib being involved in an exchange of blows outside the nightclub before he and his friends were chased across City Square and into Mill Hill.

Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib suffered a broken cheek bone
Some time later Leeds player Michael Duberry came out of the club and asked where the others were, the court heard.

Mr Lawson said a couple of minutes later he saw Woodgate and Mr Duberry returning in a group of four or five men.

Woodgate and his friends were refused re-entry because of what had happened earlier, he said.

Trouble

But Lee Bowyer was allowed back in to the Majestyk because he had not been involved in the earlier trouble, the court was told.

Earlier a paramedic called to the scene in Mill Hill told the court that Mr Najeib was unable to speak after being attacked.

He suffered a broken leg, cheekbone and facial injuries, and ambulance technician Andrew Finn said there was blood around the student's head and blood trapped in his airway.

Mr Finn said: "He was conscious but was unable to respond to any questions.


He had a head injury and I could hear blood in his airway

Paramedic Andrew Finn
"He had a head injury and I could hear blood in his airway. He was moaning but not moving greatly."

He told the jury that one of two men who directed his ambulance to the scene was Leeds United reserve team striker Tony Hackworth, whom he described as "excitable".

He described how Hackworth's shirt was open to the navel, but was not sure if it had been ripped or was simply unbuttoned.

He added that Hackworth had said that there had been a fight between some Asian and white youths and that he had tried to help.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.


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