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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
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

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game