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Thursday, 13 July, 2000, 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK
Mondays singer escapes fine
Shaun Ryder arriving in court
Ryder told the judge he had been "on a bender"
Rock star Shaun Ryder narrowly escaped a heavy fine after turning up a day late to give evidence at a trial of a man accused of knocking him off his bicycle.

The case against 31-year-old James Butler, of Didsbury, Greater Manchester, was thrown out after the Happy Mondays singer told the judge he had been "on a bender" and thought the trial was listed for Thursday.

Ryder, 37, had claimed his bike was hit from behind by a car driven by Mr Butler minutes after an argument in July last year.

Shaun Ryder at Glastonbury 2000
Ryder on stage at Glastonbury last month
Judge Anthony Ensor told the jury at Manchester Crown Court to deliver not guilty verdicts for assault and dangerous driving after Ryder said he could not be sure whether he had been hit by a car or had wobbled into it after a night out.

"I hadn't ridden a bike for a few years and I wasn't alert," he told the court.

Ryder said he had been out drinking the night before and had only had a few hours sleep when he took to the road.

"No jury could rely on evidence given by Mr Ryder as his recollection of the events was uncertain," he said.

He further reprimanded Ryder for failing to turn up at court on Wednesday for the trial, which he said had cost 8,000.

'On a bender'

"I would have fined him because of the seriousness of the matter but I don't have the power to do so," he said.

"He should be reprimanded for his conduct."

Ryder apologised to the court and said he had been mistaken about his dates.

James Butler arrives at Manchester Crown Court
Not surprised: Defandant James Butler
"I had been in Manchester and I had left my mobile phone in a hotel so I was out of contact with my manager," he told the court.

"We had just released a single and we were out for a celebration."

Judge Ensor asked why the court was told that Ryder had left his house at 0930 BST on Wednesday.

Ryder replied: "I was on a bender."

Outside court, Ryder declined to comment, but James Butler said: "To be quite truthful I didn't think anything would come of it other than what happened."

Ryder first found fame in the late 1980s with the Happy Mondays, whose hits included Kinky Afro, Step On and Hallelujah. The group dissolved in 1993, and he formed another band, Black Grape.

When Black Grape split in 1998, Ryder reformed the Happy Mondays, and the band played the Glastonbury Festival last month.

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