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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 16:36 GMT
Alleged attacker denies 'inventing story'
Sarfraz Najeib
Sarfraz Najeib suffered a broken nose
A man accused of joining some Leeds United footballers in an attack on a student has denied he invented a story about another group of attackers at the scene.

Neale Caveney told Hull Crown Court he had seen a scuffle in Leeds city centre but had not recognised anyone involved.


You were viciously assaulting and encouraging others to assault that lad

Nicholas Campbell QC
But the prosecutor accused the 22-year-old of "viciously assaulting and encouraging others to assault" student Sarfraz Najeib in January last year.

Nicholas Campbell QC accused Mr Caveney, of Middlesbrough, and others of "putting your heads together" to fabricate another group of attackers.

Leeds defender Jonathan Woodgate, 21, of Middlesbrough, midfielder Lee Bowyer, 24, of Leeds, Paul Clifford, 22, of Middlesbrough and Mr Caveney, all deny causing Mr Najeib, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, grievous bodily harm with intent.

All four also deny affray.

Mr Najeib, 21, suffered a broken leg, nose and cheekbone in the attack in Leeds city centre.

City chase

Mr Caveney said he ran after Mr Bowyer, Mr Woodgate and Mr Clifford, who he presumed were following another friend James Hewison.

Neale Caveney
Neale Caveney denies all charges
But he told the court there were another group of white men he did not know with his friends.

In an earlier police statement, Mr Caveney had mentioned that men he did not know had been drinking near to their group in the VIP bar in the Majestyk nightclub.

And he told police he had assumed these were the same people.

But he said he did not know why he thought this.

Mr Campbell said: "You and Mr Clifford have put your heads together to make up this story about the other group, haven't you."

Mr Caveney said: "No. I disagree, sir."

Grudge denied

Mr Caveney said he noticed "scuffling" between a group of white and Asian people but did not recognise any involved.

He said he had not watched the scuffle closely because he was looking for his friend.

Mr Campbell accused Mr Caveney of "plucking out of the air" the other group of white men.

He said: "It was an attempt to say that this was not your group but an entirely different group of white lads - who had no grudge against the Asian group."

"I had no grudge against them because they didn't do anything to me," said Mr Caveney.

Jonathan Woodgate
Mr Caveney said Mr Woodgate injured his ankle running
Mr Campbell argued that Mr Caveney, Mr Clifford and Anthony Hackworth, who is not on trial, had come "steaming round the corner" intending to put Mr Najeib to the ground.

Mr Bowyer and Mr Woodgate were the reinforcements, he told the court.

Mr Campbell said whatever Mr Najeib's brother Shahzad tried to do to help, nothing was going to stop Mr Najeib getting a beating.

"You were viciously assaulting and encouraging others to assault that lad," he said.

Mr Caveney said: "That is not right Mr Campbell, that is not right at all."

The case continues.


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