SHEFFIELD United star Oli McBurnie has been cleared of assault after being accused of stamping on a rival fan’s head.
The footballer, 26, was found not guilty of a single charge of assault by beating at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court today.
PAOli McBurnie has been cleared of assault[/caption]
It comes after fans carried out a pitch invasion during a play-off semi-final game.
Nottingham Forrest fan George Brinkley, 27, claimed he was singled out and attacked after telling the star: “You’re s*** at football, I’m better than you.”
Brinkley told the Court he genuinely feared for his life as fans stormed the pitch following last season’s Championship match.
District Judge Leo Pyle said his judgment was based on evidence heard in court and “not the instant judgment of social media”.
In his ruling, the judge said some of the evidence given by alleged victim Brinkley had been “somewhat flimsy”.
Judge Pyle was urged by McBurnie’s barrister to find that “a degree of club bias” was responsible for the accounts given by witnesses.
During her closing speech, McBurnie’s barrister Lisa Judge said the footballer had lifted his boot “like a ballerina” to clear the legs of the complainant, who was “lying on the floor of a pitch he ought not to have been on”.
District Judge Pyle said of mobile phone footage of the alleged attack: “The defendant’s foot is nowhere near Mr Brinkley’s left shin. He [McBurnie] quickly and clearly lifts his leg up to avoid the complainant.”
Fans rushed from the stands following the full time whistle, with Blades skipper Billy Sharp also headbutted by a Forest season ticket-holder who was later jailed for 24 weeks.
After being put in a headlock by McBurnie’s team-mate, Rhian Brewster, prosecutors claim Mr Brinkley was stamped ON by McBurnie as he suffered “a loss of temper and control”.
McBurnie, 26, of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, who has scored nine goals in 18 games this season, denied a single charge of assault by beating.