Anton Ferdinand was neither "sophisticated" nor "motivated" enough to concoct false allegations of racial abuse against John Terry as the latter has argued, the court in the trial of the Chelsea captain heard yesterday.
The prosecution counsel, Mr Duncan Penny, told Westminster magistrates' court that the "pattern of behaviour" between the two men as they traded insults during a game between Chelsea and Ferdinand's Queen's Park Rangers on 23 October did not lend itself to Terry's version of events that his opponent accused him of a racial slur.
Penny said: "The Crown submits there was a pattern of behaviour which makes the allegations against Mr Ferdinand particularly unlikely, particularly given that it happened in a few seconds. This is an allegation [by Ferdinand] of [Terry] saying something racist which is far more sophisticated than straightforward playground abuse. It is very unlikely that in the heat of the moment in this particular game he [Ferdinand] had the motivation or the sophistication to make the allegation."
Terry is answering a charge of racially aggravated abuse, that he called Ferdinand a "f****** black c***". He does not deny saying the words during the game at Loftus Road, but says he was repeating them back sarcastically after Ferdinand accused him of saying them first.
The District Judge Howard Riddle adjourned the court until 2pm today, when he could potentially deliver a verdict, although he may wait until tomorrow to do so. The maximum penalty for Terry if he is found guilty will be a fine of £2,500.
In his closing submissions for the defence, Mr George Carter-Stephenson QC raised the possibility that Terry could have "misunderstood or misinterpreted what Mr Ferdinand was saying to him", adding: "It's the defence's case but it's quite clearly something that comes into play."
Developing the theme later, Mr Carter-Stephenson QC said his client Terry could have mistakenly "interpreted" the word "Bridge" as "black". Ferdinand had admitted that he was goading Terry about an alleged extra-marital affair with the former partner of his erstwhile Chelsea team-mate Wayne Bridge in the exchange between the pair.
As well as a misinterpretation, Mr Carter-Stephenson QC said: "There is a very realistic theory someone in the crowd is shouting simultaneously some sort of insult as Ferdinand's lips are moving." He claimed that on the audio of the footage played to court the voices of the crowd could be heard clearly, including the phrase "f****** mongrel". Riddle later acknowledged this as a potential explanation.
The defence cast Ferdinand as an "unreliable" witness especially in recalling conversations. Mr Carter-Stephenson QC pointed out that in his submission, Ferdinand said he would have been "livid" to have been racially abused and yet when the footage of the game was first brought to his attention he "did nothing".
The defence said that in the light of the abuse Terry was accustomed to receiving at games it was "implausible" that he "totally lost it" in response to taunts from Ferdinand, as suggested by the prosecution. In reference to Ferdinand, Carter-Stephenson said: "You might ask yourself: who is the person who lost control that day? Who is following another player to the halfway line, shouting abuse at him?"
The prosecution said the court should consider Ferdinand "brave" for supporting the allegations against a player who was then England captain. Penny said: "This case may follow him around for the rest of his career... he made a grave allegation against the England captain."
The post-match conversation between Terry and Ferdinand in the Chelsea dressing room was conducted by Terry and Ashley Cole to "smooth things over", Penny said. "They were hoping to know what he [Ferdinand] knew or had heard." Terry denies the charge. The case continues.
- More about:
- City Of Westminster Magistrates' Court