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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Punch 'broke bone in footballer's hand'
Graphic of three footballers
The three footballers deny the charges against them
A professional footballer hit a nightclub bouncer so hard he broke a bone in his hand, a court heard.

Chelsea star John Terry, 21, suffered a "boxer's fracture" to his right hand after hitting Trevor Thirlwall, 28, the jury was told.

Mr Terry's hand was examined by Chelsea medical officer Dr Neil Fraser the day after the player is accused of attacking Mr Thirlwall at The Wellington private members' club in central London.

It is alleged Mr Terry, his Chelsea team mate Jody Morris, 23, and Wimbledon player Des Byrne, 21, became violent after being thrown out of the club on 4 January.


John would possibly have been chosen as a squad member for England's World Cup campaign in Japan

Graeme Le Saux
Dr Fraser told Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court in London: "The injury suggested he had broken that bone having put some degree of force through it.

"He had an X-ray and saw a specialist and it was confirmed he had a fracture.

"In the medical textbooks it's referred to as a boxer's fracture."

Mr Terry says he punched Mr Thirlwall in self defence but denied hitting him in the face with a bottle.

Character witnesses

He claims the fight started when Mr Thirlwall and his brother attacked Mr Byrne.

Mr Morris, who is 5ft 5ins tall, told the court he had been talking to Mr Thirlwall and another doorman, Shaun Brice, when the fighting broke out.

He said: "Even before anything spilled out onto the pavement I wasn't about to do anything, the size of me compared to them, I wouldn't be able to do anything".

He denied swearing at club manageress Sasha Keegan, prompting her to eject them from the club.

Racial abuse claim

The court was also told that the three footballers lied about a racist comment allegedly directed at one of them.

Mr Terry, Mr Morris and Mr Byrne had previously told Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court that bouncer Trevor Thirwell had racially abused Mr Byrne, who is Irish.

Summing up for the prosecution, Jeremy Donne said the players had not mentioned the alleged abuse to the police when they were questioned about the incident at the Wellington Club on 4 January.

Speaking about the alleged racist comment, Mr Donne said it was false and none of the footballers had mentioned it in their police interviews after the incident.

He said the three players had later made up the racist taunt between them to try to cover the fact that Byrne had launched an unprovoked attack.

Mr Donne said: "He could hardly be held back. He completely lost control."

'Gentle disposition'

The court also heard from character witnesses for two of the footballers.

Graeme Le Saux, Mr Terry's club captain, said he believed that if it was not for the court proceedings "John would possibly have been chosen as a squad member for England's World Cup campaign in Japan".

He added that he had seen Mr Terry in a "social context" in which he "behaves politely and I consider him to be of a gentle disposition".

Robbie Earle, who has been helping with pre-season training at Wimbledon, appeared for Mr Byrne saying he had "never had a problem" with him.

Mr Terry denies wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon.

Mr Byrne denies possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon and all three players deny affray.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Morris told his barrister he was too small to have committed the crime"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

16 Aug 02 | England
15 Aug 02 | England
14 Aug 02 | England
05 Aug 02 | England
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