A Haverhill Rovers player and another footballer from Halstead have walked free from a court after being cleared of causing grievous bodily harm.
Jordan Partridge, 25, and Rovers midfielder James Murray, 23, had been accused of launching an attack in Halstead’s Kings Road during the early hours of July 14, 2013.
It was claimed by the prosecution at Ipswich Crown Court that injuries sustained by Christopher Lillicrop, 51, left him needing eight stitches to a head wound and resulted in the loss of a testicle.
Both Partridge, of Juniper Close, Halstead, and Murray, of Trinity Road, Halstead had denied a charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
Today (Friday) at the conclusion of a four day trial it took the jury just over three hours to find both defendants unanimously not guilty.
After the verdicts were delivered, Mr Recorder Christopher Makey told Partridge and Murray that they were free to leave the court.
During the trial they had maintained that they had acted only in self defence after Mr Lillicrop became violent.
Before the alleged incident, Partridge said he had visited USA Fried Chicken where he saw Mr Lillicrop, who he said was intoxicated, and who was making derogatory comments about Murray.
Partridge said that he recognised Mr Lillicrop as the man who had made comments to Murray as he had walked with his friend past The Bull hotel a week earlier.
Both Murray and Partridge denied prosecution claims that they had left Scenarios,where they had been drinking, in search of Mr Lillicrop with the intention of beating him up.
Giving evidence, Murray said it had been his intention to go straight home but as he and Partridge passed Kings Road they heard Mr Lillicrop shouting and decided to ask why he had been making comments about him.
Mr Lillicrop, who appeared to be drunk, tried to swing a punch at him but missed, said Murray who landed a blow in return in self defence. The punch struck Mr Lillicrop on the forehead.
In the ensuing struggle, both he and Mr Lillicrop fell across the bonnet of a parked car, said Murray before Partridge stepped in to help his friend who was by now on the ground.
Murray, who denied intentionally kicking Mr Lillicrop in the groin, said he never saw Partridge punch or kick Mr Lillicrop.
The injuries which led to Mr Lillicrop losing a testicle had been inflicted “unintentionally” said Murray. He said: “It will live with me for the rest of my life.”
Partridge said his only role in the incident had been to put an arm around Mr Lillicrop as he tried to defuse the situation.
When he and Murray came upon Mr Lillicrop in Kings Road he had been shouting “come on then”, claimed Partridge. Murray had asked what the problem was and was confronted with an attempt to punch him.
Giving evidence, Mr Lillicrop said that earlier he had been at a music festival and then in the Locomotive public house before walking off along Kings Road.
He said he had heard footsteps behind him before he was punched and pushed to the ground where he was repeatedly punched and kicked “about 20 times” in his groin by Murray.
A photograph taken at the scene by police of a blood-covered Mr Lillicrop before he was taken to hospital was shown to the jury.
The alleged attack ended when people living nearby shouted that they had called the police, claimed Duncan O’Donnell prosecuting.