Chelsea stars are cleared of assault at nightclub

Former England Under-21 captain is cleared over fight with doormen after trial that has cast another shadow over the game

The English football authorities heaved a collective sigh of relief yesterday as three players were cleared of committing affray outside a London nightclub.

John Terry, 21, a former England Under-21 captain, his Chelsea colleague Jody Morris, 23, and the Wimbledon player Des Byrne, 21, were found not guilty of a number of charges relating to a fight between the players and three doormen at the Wellington Club in Knightsbridge in January. Byrne was found guilty of a lesser charge of being in possession of an offensive weapon, a bottle, and was fined £2,000.

After the jury of eight women and four men at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court reached its verdict, the players spoke of their relief and the enormous strain they had been under. Mr Terry, in particular, had been tipped as a future England senior squad captain before the case. His international career could have been ended by a guilty verdict.

His lawyer, Stephen Barker, said: "Anyone who saw John give evidence in that witness box will have no doubt about the stress and strain he has been under for the past eight months because of the monstrous allegation that he took a bottle to a bouncer ... He now just wants to get on with what I hope will be a long and brilliant football career."

The charges came after an incident at the Wellington on 4 January. Mr Terry was accused of hitting Trevor Thirlwall, 28, one of the club's doormen, in the face with a bottle. He admitted throwing a punch in self-defence, but denied using a bottle. All three footballers were accused of being involved in a fracas with Mr Thirlwall, his brother Matthew, a professional boxer, and a third doorman, Shaun Brice. Mr Terry pleaded not guilty to affray, to being in possession of an offensive weapon (a bottle) and to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Byrne and Mr Morris pleaded not guilty to affray and Byrne to being in possession of an offensive weapon.

Despite the not guilty verdicts, the players' behaviour will cast another shadow over the game which is still trying to live down the trials this year of Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate. Mr Terry and Mr Morris had already been fined by Chelsea for being among a group of players who were drunk and insulting to a group of Americans at a hotel near Heathrow airport the day after the 11 September attacks.

Two years ago, Mr Morris pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm after he and a friend chased and beat a man who had criticised the friend for urinating in public. Mr Morris, who was ordered to perform 150 hours' community service and pay £500 compensation to his victim, chased the man for a mile through Epsom in Surrey before punching him in the face. He was criticised in court for leaving the man without summoning medical help.

Byrne was involved in a nightspot brawl in 2000, after which he was sacked by his club, Stockport County. During the brawl a bouncer was "glassed". The attacker was never identified by police.

Two days after the Wellington Club incident, Mr Terry and Mr Morris were due to play for their club in an FA Cup match. They denied drinking too much, but the jury was shown CCTV footage of their apparently boorish behaviour.

Sentencing Byrne, Judge Fabyan Evans said: "You are a young man who has yet to learn that fame and wealth bring responsibility."

Chelsea Football Club said it looked forward to having Mr Terry and Mr Morris back.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam