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Jaw break Stonehouse footballer 'acted in self-defence' court told

By The Citizen  |  Posted: July 24, 2013

STONEHOUSE Town footballer Harry Wootten has appeared in court following a punch up about an offside disagreement.

Wootten, 25, of Dorrington Court, Stroud, was playing against Cheltenham side Whaddon United on October 27 last year when the free kick was awarded.

However Wootten disagreed with the decision which led to a fight between him and Whaddon skipper Terry Gardiner, Gloucester Crown Court was told.

It is claimed that the pair had words when Wootten said 'how is it an offside, he ran past you, retard'.

Gardiner then allegedly swore at Wootten, telling him to shut his mouth, and is said to have elbowed him on his cheek directly under his eye socket. Wootten denies inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Gardiner, after allegeldy retaliating with a punch that broke his opponent's jaw.

He took to the stand yesterday and told the jury he was acting in was self-defence.

Wootten told defence solicitor Jon Holmes that it was a contentious decision when he hit back at Wootten, breaking his jaw in two places.

Wootten said: "It was very painful at the time and I automatically retaliated."

He admitted that he was not thinking about his actions at the time.

Mr Holmes called witness Jim Blythe, the chairman of the Stonehouse club, who has known Wootten since he was 16.

He said: "He is a very skillful player. I did not witness the incident, I was not aware of it until the referee came over to stop the game. We could not find any one who witnessed it.

"I heard the player shouting at the referee to get him off the pitch, he was referring to Harry."

Michael Hill was another witness called by the defence yesterday. He is the company director where Wootten works as an assistant accountant.

He told the jury that Wootten would soon be moving roles to operation manager where he would be responsible for 20 staff.

Mr Hill said: "As an employee he is exemplary, if I had any doubts I would not employee him."

While summing up the case, prosecutor David Maunder reminded the jury that it was a 'straightforward case' with an 'unprovoked reaction' by Wootten. The trial continues.

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