Chelsea captain John Terry used 'straightforward racial abuse', court hears
Thursday 12 July 2012
Footballer John Terry was using "straightforward racial abuse" against
Anton Ferdinand rather than sarcastically repeating a racist slur, a
court heard today.
Terry, 31, is accused of calling QPR centre-half Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" during a Premier League match on October 23 last year.
Making his closing speech at Westminster Magistrates' Court, prosecutor Duncan Penny said on Terry's account, Ferdinand had used the words "calling me a black c***".
Terry claims that he simply repeated back the slur that Ferdinand wrongly thought he had used, and denies a racially aggravated public order offence.
This meant that Terry added the word "f******", and had also used the word 'and' before the racial obscenity, Mr Penny said.
"If it's rhetorical repetition, why does the word 'and' feature at all? Why are any other words spoken by Mr Terry at all, beyond a black c***?," Mr Penny asked.
The pair had traded insults in the run-up to the alleged racist insult.
Ferdinand taunted Terry about his alleged affair with a team-mate's ex-girlfriend, while Terry implied the QPR player had bad breath.
Mr Penny said: "The words 'and' and 'f******' are Mr Terry's words and nobody else's," he said. "Are they simply a plain response, a retort, lashing out verbally just as Mr Terry did in the original exchange?
"Just as he did with the hand over the mouth to imply bad breath, just as he did with the 'f*** off, f*** off' directed towards Mr Ferdinand, and finally, when he was fed up, he picked up on the topic of Mr Ferdinand's abuse, namely the (alleged) extra-marital affair, and retorted with 'and yours', or something to that effect, and straightforward racial abuse."
He said it was unlikely that Ferdinand would have had the "motivation or frankly the sophistication" in the heat of the moment to make up an allegation that Terry had used racial abuse.
"A false allegation of racism would be an accusation which involved more sophisticated thought processes than had hitherto been going on, on that football pitch," Mr Penny said.
He said Ferdinand would not be the first "victim" who was reluctant to give evidence in court.
"What was in this for Anton Ferdinand? This case will follow him for the rest of his career. He made it clear he did not wish to be here (in court), just like Mr (Ashley) Cole," the prosecutor said.
"Was it, in the case of Ferdinand, because he had made a grave and false allegation against the England captain?
"You may wish to ask yourself the question, whether in truth he was brave to give evidence in this trial?"
Making his closing speech, George Carter-Stephenson QC, for Terry, said that the prosecution case was based on "speculation".
He said: "This is not a case about racism. The prosecution in cross-examination conceded that he is not a racist.
"There is an abundance of evidence in this case to prove that fact.
"The way that this case is put is that on this occasion Mr Terry completely lost his cool and made an inappropriate remark making reference to a physical characteristic of Mr Ferdinand, namely his colour, in response to words conceded to have been repeated taunts and insults referring to his alleged affair with Mr (Wayne) Bridge's partner."
He told the court there was no direct evidence about what Terry had said, other than the Chelsea defender's own account.
Mr Carter-Stephenson said Ferdinand was "inconsistent and unreliable both on words and events and could not satisfy the court to the criminal standard".
He went on: "No matter what the words actually were, if they were or may have been Mr Terry repeating back what he believed Mr Ferdinand had accused him of, then that's the end of this particular case."
Mr Carter-Stephenson said Terry would not have lost his temper over goading about the alleged affair, which he had faced "hundreds of times before".
"Can it really be right that Mr Terry totally loses his cool, as suggested by the prosecution, in relation to a further taunt by Mr Ferdinand about shagging his team-mate's missus?" the barrister asked.
"The defence suggests that there is an inherent implausibility in that, given the evidence before this court.
"Mr Terry has 600 games behind him by way of professional top-level football experience, spanning 14 years. He has been sent off on four occasions, never in relation to his language.
"It is inconceivable to suggest that the taunt from Anton Ferdinand, that Mr Terry has heard hundreds of times before, and you may think he's heard far worse in relation to his mother, made him snap in the way suggested."
The court heard yesterday that some fans have chanted sexual insults about Terry's mother.
Expert lip-readers were called in by both the prosecution and defence as part of the trial.
But Mr Carter-Stephenson said lip-reading even in controlled conditions only has an accuracy of 60 to 80 per cent.
Mr Carter-Stephenson suggested it was Ferdinand who had lost his temper rather than Terry.
"Who is actually the person who has lost control on that day? Who is it that on the face of it is angry?
"Who is it that follows another player to the halfway line shouting and abusing him and repeating an insult, which on his own evidence he says he did, over and over again?
"That may be a good indication of who has lost it."
He said it could be that Terry had misinterpreted Ferdinand using the word "Bridge" as "black", or that Ferdinand's lips were moving and someone in the crowd simultaneously shouted abuse.
The barrister also questioned why Ferdinand "did nothing" after seeing footage of the incident on YouTube after the match.
Turning to Terry, he said: "He is a truthful witness. He believes that Anton Ferdinand on that night accused him of calling Mr Ferdinand a black c***."
He went on: "Mr Terry is a man with very considerable mental strength, and great self-control. You might like to contrast that to what Mr Ferdinand himself has told you he did on that particular day."
The case was adjourned until tomorrow afternoon, when it is expected that Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle will deliver his verdict at 2pm.
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