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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 01:28 GMT
Footballer 'just being nosey'
Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib suffered a broken cheek and leg
The Leeds United footballers trial has heard that one of the players told police he was "just being nosey" when he joined in a chase after a group of men.

England defender Jonathan Woodgate told detectives he ran after his team-mate Lee Bowyer from a nightclub towards the spot where a 21-year-old student was later found beaten senseless.

But Mr Woodgate, 21, of Middlesbrough, Lee Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, Paul Clifford and Neale Caveney, both 22 and from Middlesbrough, all deny assaulting student Sarfraz Najeib in Mill Hill in January last year.


I was just being nosey more than anything - I was so far behind I couldn't really see anything

Jonathan Woodgate
They all also deny affray.

On Tuesday, the jury at Hull Crown Court heard a police interview with Mr Woodgate recorded six days after the attack.

He said he had come out of the Majestyk nightclub in Leeds with friends and Mr Bowyer.

Mr Woodgate said he had seen "something going on with some Asian lads" outside the club but did not know what it was.

Chase

He said Mr Bowyer had run off and he had followed him "to see what was happening".

He said he got to the corner of Mill Hill and could see someone lying on the ground - but denied taking part in any attack.

Jonathan Woodgate
Jonathan Woodgate denies jumping on the injured student
"I saw Lee run and I followed," Mr Woodgate told Detective Constable Christopher Windle.

"I was just being nosey more than anything. I was so far behind I couldn't really see anything."

Mr Woodgate was asked if he had jumped on the man lying on the ground.

He replied: "No, because I wasn't there. I was on the other side - round the corner."

Detective Constable Windle told the jury Mr Woodgate had refused to name the friends he was out with for the evening, although he said some of them were old school friends.

Identity parade

He said Mr Woodgate had been in a number of Leeds pubs where he had "five or six drinks".

He added that the footballer had initially forgotten about visiting the DV8 lap-dancing club during the evening - but later remembered because he had been "stuffing his face with sausage rolls".

Lee Bowyer
Mr Woodgate said he chased after Lee Bowyer
Earlier the jury heard that both Mr Woodgate and Mr Bowyer had refused to take part in identity parades because they felt they would be unfair.

Solicitors for both players had argued that witnesses would be able to pick them out because they had seen their photographs in newspapers and on television following their arrests.

But the jury was told that a 21-year-old barman who claims to have witnessed the attack, had picked out both men when shown videos showing each of them together with film of eight volunteers.

Detective Constable Windle said that when he charged Woodgate on 14 March, the footballer replied: "Not guilty - been mistaken for another man or person."

The trial continues on Wednesday.


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