Former Premier League player Joey Barton, who was accused of pushing his wife Georgia to the floor before kicking her in a drunken row at their home, has been cleared of assault.
Barton, who is now manager of League One side Bristol Rovers, was acquitted after a judge said he could not get a fair trial because prosecutors would not call Mrs Barton to give evidence.
Barton, 40, had denied assault by beating, while prosecutors claimed his wife “would not be a credible witness”.
Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court heard that the 36-year-old woman was “audibly upset and shaken” when she dialled 999 on 2 June last year after allegedly suffering a bleeding nose and a golf-ball sized bruise on her forehead.
The trial heard she told the operator “my husband has just hit me in the house”, informing them she had a “bloody nose” after Barton hit her “just in the face”, before police arrived at the property in Kew, southwest London within 25 minutes.
Footage from a police body-worn camera captured Mrs Barton saying “I was pushed and kicked about and stuff”, the court was shown.
The officer noted “a bit of a lump and some blood”, while Mrs Barton, speaking to a female officer in a utility room five minutes later, said her husband “just flipped out” and “threw me down”.
She said “he was kicking me about”, and while holding an ice pack to her head, added the alleged attack came “out of the blue”.
“I just want him to be removed from the premises,” she said.
Image: Barton is the manager of Bristol Rovers Mrs Barton declined to make a written witness statement but ahead of the expected trial in March she wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Couple ‘drank four or five bottles of wine each’
The court previously heard Mrs Barton had written a letter to prosecutors, claiming she and her husband had been drinking “about four or five bottles of wine each” with two other couples.
She said she wasn’t sure what she said to officers was totally accurate and claimed her injury was caused accidentally when friends intervened in the row.
According to prosecutors, the account was a bid to “exculpate” her husband and they chose not to interview her or call her to give evidence.
CPS had options to compel Mrs Barton to give evidence – judge
Prosecutor Daniel O’Donoghue said: “The prosecution maintain she would not be a credible witness and has put forward an exculpatory account in order to assist Mr Barton and undermine the comments made on the evening, which we say are very clear on the video.”
However, District Judge Andrew Sweet said the CPS had options to compel Mrs Barton to give evidence or treat her as a hostile witness.
He said: “I am satisfied the position adopted by the Crown not to take a statement or call Mrs Barton is at odds with the case law. I am satisfied Mr Barton would be unable to achieve a fair trial in these circumstances and the proceedings are stayed.”
A CPS spokeswoman said: “We are considering the judge’s comments and we will review our position.”