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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 20:11 GMT
Craig Bellamy cleared of assault
Craig Bellamy and Franklin Lynch leave court after the verdict
The striker was cleared of assault following a five-day trial
Wales and Liverpool footballer Craig Bellamy has been cleared of assaulting two women in a Cardiff nightclub.

The Cardiff-born 27-year-old was accused of assault against Sophie Palmer, 19, and her friend Holly Smith, 20, at the No 10 club in February.

The player was cleared by district judge John Charles after a five-day trial at Cardiff Magistrates Court.

His co-defendant, Franklin Lynch, 52, of Barry, was found not guilty of common assault against Ms Palmer.

The judge told the striker: "It was inconsistent to convict you with the serious discrepancies in the prosecution case and the two charges are dismissed."

The court heard that an exchange of words took place between the footballer and Ms Palmer in a corridor between to nightclub's VIP bar and VIP lounge some time between 0100 GMT and 0130 GMT on 5 February.

The prosecution alleged Mr Bellamy held Ms Palmer by the throat and grabbed Ms Smith's arm and pushed her into a wall after an exchange of words in a corridor at the nightclub.

But the player told the court he had been slapped by Ms Palmer following the exchange.

Holly Smith, who gave evidence at Cardiff magistrates court
Holly Smith claimed the footballer assaulted her

He said he had been "shocked" by the slap and did not respond before Ms Palmer was ushered away.

During his closing speech on Wednesday, Mr Bellamy's defence counsel, John Charles Rees, accused Ms Palmer and Ms Smith of "devious manoeuvring" during their evidence.

He also said the prosecution's evidence was "confusing to say the least". Mr Rees told the judge: "We simply say that the evidence is a shambles as far as the prosecution is concerned and you should acquit Mr Bellamy of the charges."

Geraint Richards, defending Mr Lynch, also urged the judge to acquit his client because of a lack of evidence.

Mr Bellamy declined to comment as he left the court but stopped to sign an autograph for a cleaner and a Liverpool football strip for a fan.

Franklin Lynch
Mr Bellamy's friend, Franklin Lynch, was also cleared of assault

Speaking outside the court, Mr Bellamy's solicitor, Matthew de Maid, said his client had missed training and games for his club, Liverpool, and the case had also affected his preparation for Wales international matches.

The 6m player missed Liverpool's Wednesday night match against Portsmouth.

Mr de Maid added: "He has always said the allegations were false and that's been proved correct.

"His defence was that he didn't do anything wrong, he didn't lay a finger on anybody and for his troubles he was slapped in the face and this has been believed by the court.

"He understands that given his profession he will get a degree of hassle."

Watch Craig Bellamy leaving court after the verdict

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