The Manchester United prodigy Ravel Morrison will undergo domestic violence counselling after his third assault charge in as many years was dropped when his girlfriend refused to testify.
The 18-year-old, who is the club’s most prodigious talent and scored twice in Tuesday night’s FA Youth Cup final win over Sheffield United at Old Trafford, faced the prospect of a prison sentence yesterday, when charged with assaulting his then 16-year-old girlfriend Reah Dixon after a row over text messages she had seen on his mobile phone. Morrison was still under a referral order which he had been warned was his “last chance” when he admitted two charges of intimidating a witness, earlier this year.
The court heard that Morrison had been cautioned for assaulting his mother, Sharon Ryan, as a 15-year-old in 2008 and that a previous charge of assault against Ms Dixon, now 17, two years ago was also dropped because she refused to go ahead as a witness.
There was no assault case to answer yesterday, leaving Morrison – who appeared before district judge Jonathan Feinstein in tie and jumper – admitting to a criminal charge for throwing his girlfriend’s mobile telephone out of the window of her parents’ house in a fit of temper.
Despite hearing that Morrison and Ms Ryan would be heading away on holiday together next month – evidence, according to his barrister that theirs was a relationship which did not need further investigation - Judge Feinstein told Morrison that his actions had been “unacceptable.” He asked Salford’s youth offending team in service to examine what work can be done to change the footballer’s pattern of behaviour.
This magistrates court sees few QCs defending clients but David Fish QC, representing Morrison, argued that he and Ms Dixon had known each other for about three years and were “ a couple, really.”
The events which led to another court appearance by Morrison - who is considered to be perhaps the most talented individual to come through United’s ranks since Paul Scholes – occurred on the evening of April 19, when Ms Dixon looked at his mobile phone and “became very angry” after reading a text message, the court heard. She threw the £150 phone across the room and in retaliation he threw her phone out of the window as an argument ensued.
Morrison, who receives £3,400, after tax, on the 25th of every month, under the terms of the professional contract he signed when he was 17, was fined £600 with £85 costs and £15 victim costs.
It was a less uncomfortable day in court for Morrison than his previous appearance, at a Trafford youth court, where it emerged that he had subjected the victim of a knifepoint robbery to a two-day ordeal, in an attempt to stop him giving evidence at the trial of his muggers. The court heard that Morrison phoned the victim of the mugging and warned "you don't know what I'm capable of" and was among three teenagers who threatened the boy on the street. He and two others appeared in the victim's front garden in the early hours, were chased away and returned in a mob of 15 to 20 people. A brick was thrown through the window. Two of Morrison’s friends were eventually locked up for the mugging.
United, who declined to comment yesterday, know there is a genuine prospect of Morrison’s hugely natural talent going to waste and privately, the England youth set-up feel the same way, though they have left the attempts to nurture Morrison to United. The club will attempt to provide stability, though the uncertainty in the teenager’s domestic life was illustrated yesterday when he it took Morrison some time to give his address. “Where did you sleep last night,” the judge eventually asked him. He lives with his grandparents while his mother, Sharon Ryan, who still takes an active part in his life, lives in another part of the city with her two younger boys, Rio and Zeon.
Morrison, who has played for England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 level and made his United debut, as a substitute, in the Carling Cup tie against Wolves in October, revealed his range of talents on Tuesday. His first goal, a powerful shot after a couple of touches, was followed by an even better second when he ran at the defence, picked his spot and scored. “I’m sure you appreciate that this behaviour is not acceptable,” the judge told him yesterday. “You are somebody with a considerable future and you must at all times understand that, no matter what the provocation, loss of temper is not acceptable.”