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BBC's Bob Sinkinson at Bristol Crown Court
Jeremy Guscott showed no emotion as the verdict was read out
 real 28k

The BBC's Emma Jones
"He'd acted in fright and in self-defence"
 real 28k

Monday, 29 November, 1999, 18:55 GMT
Guscott cleared of assault
Jeremy Guscott An expressionless Guscott leaves court

Rugby star Jeremy Guscott has been found not guilty of assaulting a 47-year-old antiques dealer after an argument in the street.

A jury at Bristol Crown Court cleared the former British Lions and England player of causing actual bodily harm to Kenneth Jones.

Mr Guscott, 34, was accused of breaking Mr Jones's ankle after a row at a set of traffic lights in Bath.

The prosecution alleged that the Bath player got out of his 3.2 litre Mercedes sports car to remonstrate with Mr Jones, who stepped out in front of him.

Mr Guscott had told the court of nine men and three women that he was trying to calm Mr Jones down.

Cries of delight

Mr Guscott's family, who had been in court throughout the trial, uttered cries of delight when the verdict was read out.

It was delivered after a five-day trial in which the jury had spent more than 60 hours listening to different versions of the six-second altercation, which had been captured on CCTV.

Mr Guscott, who had always denied acting in anger, earlier told the trial jury: "I felt threatened that this man was going to attack me, I did what I did to defend myself."

The rugby player, who still plays for Bath, said nothing as he left the courtroom.

In a statement, Bath rugby club said it was delighted at Mr Guscott's acquittal.

'Disappointed'

Mr Jones, who alleged the star had assaulted him, said after the verdict that he would continue his civil claim against Mr Guscott.

He said it had not been his decision to prosecute and he wished the incident had not happened in the first place.

Earlier in the hearing, antiques dealer Mr Jones was described by defence lawyers as a "fatally flawed" witness, who had changed his story as the trial went on.

Mr Guscott, who announced his retirement from international rugby during the recent World Cup, made his England debut in 1989 against Romania scoring three tries.

He went on to score 30 tries in his 65 caps for England.

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See also:
29 Nov 99 |  England
Guscott: The darling of Twickenham
27 Nov 99 |  Rugby Union
Quins hit self-destruct
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