Leeds player accused of 'dogged lying' to save himself

Ian Herbert,North
Sunday 23 February 2014 04:10

The Leeds United footballer Michael Duberry was accused of "dogged lying, persistent lying" to save his own skin when he appeared as a prosecution witness in the retrial of his teammates Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer.

In a first trial earlier this year Mr Duberry, 26, appeared in the dock alongside his teammates, accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on the grounds that he lied to police to protect his friends. He was acquitted, but returned to court to tell the second trial jury that Mr Woodgate had confided: "We have just been in a fight," shortly after a 21-year-old Asian student was beaten unconscious in a street attack in Leeds on 11 January last year. Mr Woodgate also said that his friend, Paul Clifford, had bitten someone, Mr Duberry told Hull Crown Court.

But David Fish, QC, defending Mr Woodgate, said Mr Duberry's testimony was not be trusted since he had only changed his evidence to implicate Mr Woodgate earlier this year after hearing he might face prison if he was convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Mr Duberry agreed with Mr Fish that he had initially "lied through his teeth", but insisted the deceit was to save Mr Woodgate, not himself, and was exacerbated when his former solicitor, Peter McCormick, talked him out of giving an honest account of the night when the Leeds university student Sarfraz Najeib was attacked.

Mr Najeib, 21, of Rotherham, South Yorkshire, suffered a fractured cheekbone, broken leg and bite mark to his right cheek. Mr Woodgate, 21, Mr Bowyer, 24, and Mr Woodgate's friends Neale Caveney and Paul Clifford, both 22, deny affray and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Duberry joined his teammates late after an away game with Leeds reserves on the night of the attack. However, all mention of violence was omitted from his witness statement. He also lied about driving his friends to a taxi rank.

Mr Fish said: "You were prepared to lie and lie in the face of the police. That degree of lying – dogged lying, persistent lying was nothing to do with Mr Woodgate [but] to save you ... Do you agree that in the 12 or so months between the incident and the trial, you lied and lied again?" Mr Duberry said: "I did not tell the truth to the police."

The case continues.

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