Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 16:17 UK

Distin fined for trial 'no-show'

Sylvain Distin
Sylvain Distin played with Barton at Manchester City

Premier League footballer Sylvain Distin has been fined 2,000 for failing to attend the aborted assault trial of Joey Barton.

The Portsmouth player ignored a summons delivered by a police officer and went on holiday days before the trial at the crown court in Manchester.

Distin, 30, witnessed Barton's attack on Ousmane Dabo during training when all three played for Manchester City.

The trial was aborted because Barton changed his plea to guilty.

The Newcastle United player, who appeared at Minshull Street Crown Court, was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for two years. He is currently serving a six-month sentence for another offence.

He chose not to cancel this holiday knowing full well he had a duty to attend
Judge Mushtaq Khokhar

Judge Mushtaq Khokhar said he had "no doubt" Distin knew he had to attend the hearing.

Distin told the judge he did not understand what a summons was because he had never been arrested or appeared before a court.

Judge Khokhar said there could have been no misunderstanding when he received the notice from a police officer at his Dorset home.

He said: "In my mind there is no doubt Sylvain Distin did know that he had to attend.

"He chose not to cancel this holiday knowing full well he had a duty to attend.

"When somebody fails to attend that is treated very seriously indeed."

Joey Barton
Joey Barton admitted assaulting Ousmane Dabo

Judge Khokhar said Distin could have faced a custodial sentence if the case had not resolved itself.

Distin was also ordered to pay 982.95 prosecution costs.

The court heard that a letter was sent to Distin's former Manchester home but he never received it because he had transferred to Portsmouth.

His address in Dorset was tracked down and Distin phoned court officials and said a family holiday had been planned.

He admitted saying he would attend court if he was in Britain or France but not from further abroad.

Distin made no mention then of the 10-day holiday in Crete.

Det Con Stuart Brown, of Greater Manchester Police, rang the player to check on his intention to attend and said Distin laughed at him when he told him he had to return from holiday.

'Apologetic'

He also said he did not believe he was abroad because a UK dialling tone rang out when he called Distin's mobile.

Distin accepted he received the summons but did not realise the importance of the situation.

When Distin realised he could be arrested, he spoke to Det Con Brown on the morning of the trial and offered to give his evidence by video-conference from Crete.

Richard Jory, defending Distin, said: "He did not realise the full implications of his non-attendance. He is apologetic.

"There is no issue to the fact that he did not attend."




SEE ALSO
Barton is sentenced for assault
01 Jul 08 |  England
Barton admits team-mate assault
30 Jun 08 |  England

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