Bowyer insists he was sockless on night of 'assault'

Ian Herbert,North
Thursday 22 November 2001 01:00

The Leeds United footballer Lee Bowyer paraded in front of a Crown Court jury yesterday in the clothes he claims to have been wearing on the night he is accused of assaulting an Asian student.

The trial in which he and his team-mate Jonathan Woodgate are accused was adjourned for 10 minutes while the 24-year-old midfield player changed into a leather jacket, dark jeans-type trousers and a pair of black shoes with a metal buckle on top. Mr Bowyer deliberately wore no socks.

The change of clothes was an attempt to demonstrate his assertion that light seen shining from the side of his foot on the night in question was skin ­ from his bare feet ­ and not a shoe with a shiny buckle which he has been accused of failing to pass to police, in an attempt to deceive them.

The prosecution alleges that the shoes Mr Bowyer handed to police were swapped, to mask evidence linking him to an attack on Sarfraz Najeib in Mill Hill, Leeds, in January last year. There has also been a dispute over what Mr Bowyer wore. His defence team insists that witnesses who described seeing a balding, ginger-headed man wearing a three-quarter length jacket had not seen Mr Bowyer at all.

Asked to fasten the leather jacket by his counsel, Desmond de Silva QC, Mr Bowyer told Hull Crown Court that he was slightly overweight. "I have put a bit of weight on," he said. "I am injured at the moment."

Mr de Silva asked: "Injuries make you fat do they?"

Mr Bowyer replied: "They do for me, yes."

Mr Bowyer then walked from the witness box towards the jury and on to a step.The jury was shown video footage of Mr Bowyer leaving the Majestyk nightclub on the night Mr Najeib was attacked. Mr de Silva asked the footballer: "Do you dislike socks or have a hatred for them?" Mr Bowyer replied: "It's like a thing back in London." Mr de Silva said: "Sockless in London?" Mr Bowyer, who was born in London, said: "I can't explain it. It's a thing that we did."

Under cross-examination by prosecuting counsel Nicholas Campbell QC, Mr Bowyer said he met his friend Neale Caveney, 22, outside a Leeds city centre pub. The jury has been shown CCTV video stills of what the prosecution claims is a hug between Mr Bowyer and Mr Caveney after they allegedly attacked Mr Najeib. Mr Campbell asked: "There's a hug and you say that it must be you on the photographs. Not because you could identify yourself but because of the blood. How do you know it's you?"

Mr Bowyer replied: "Because I have got Mr Caveney's blood on my back." Traces of Mr Caveney's blood were found on Mr Bowyer's leather jacket, the jury has been told.

Mr Campbell asked: "Apart from the blood, you would be denying it's you on the photos." Mr Bowyer replied: "Yes".

Mr Bowyer, from Leeds, Mr Woodgate, 21, from Middlesbrough, Mr Woodgate's friend Paul Clifford, 22, and Mr Caveney, both from Middlesbrough, all deny causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Najeib, 21, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire. The four also deny affray.

The trial continues today.

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