Football: Blissett faced with 'ample evidence'

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The Independent Online
THE JURY considering the case of the Brentford footballer, Gary Blissett, accused of assaulting Torquay United's John Uzzell during a Third Division game last year will retire this morning to consider its verdict.

Blissett, 28, has denied a prosecution allegation that he 'cynically and deliberately' thrust his elbow into the face of Uzzell, who has not played professional football since the incident, as the two jumped for a high ball in the game at Torquay last December.

Judge David MacLaren Webster yesterday told the jury that professional football was not for the faint-hearted - it was not tiddlywinks or croquet on the vicarage lawn but a vigorous, hard-contested contact sport. Accidents were expected and did happen, but what was not accepted by those involved, nor by the law, was the deliberate or intentional infliction of injury.

The jury has seen video recordings of the incident which resulted in Uzzell having an operation after receiving a fractured cheekbone and a fractured eye-socket floor.

Blissett, who has denied a charge of causing grievous bodily harm, has told the jury that what happened had been an accident as the two players went for a 50-50 ball.

Andrew Chubb, for the prosecution, said there was 'ample evidence' to show he had committed an unlawful act. 'Mr Blissett, realising he was not going to win the ball, kept that elbow raised so that, although his body appears to turn away from Mr Uzzell, his momentum rammed that elbow into Mr Uzzell's cheek.'

David Green, defending, said it had been reasonable for the Brentford striker to go for the ball, and when it became apparent the challenge had been won by Mr Uzzell, Blissett had turned away.

'It is false for the prosecution to say Blissett should have dropped his arms at that stage. We are talking about fractions of a second.'