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Terry set to hear verdict

13 July 2012, 08:09

 London - Chelsea captain John Terry is set to discover if he will become the first top footballer in Britain to be convicted of racially abusing an opponent during a match when the verdict in his racism trial is announced on Friday.

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle will decide the verdict instead of a jury. Terry faces a maximum fine of £2 500 if he is found guilty.

Prosecutors closed their case on Thursday by saying the opponent that Terry is accused of racially abusing lacks the "motivation or the sophistication" to invent the allegations.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Duncan Penny said Terry had been exhibiting a "pattern of behaviour" during the Premier League game in October in hurling "bursts" of abuse at Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand.

Penny claims Terry was "lashing out" after being goaded about his alleged extramarital affair with then-England teammate Wayne Bridge's former girlfriend.

Terry denies a racially aggravated public order charge, saying he only used an offensive term sarcastically to counter the obscenity he claims Ferdinand was accusing him of saying.

But prosecutors said that defence is implausible, noting that Terry added an extra expletive at the start of his response.
They also asked Riddle to consider what would motivate Ferdinand to be "reckless" and concoct the allegation.

"It's very unlikely that Mr. Ferdinand in the heat of the moment, with 5 minutes to go ... would have had the motivation or the sophistication to make the allegation suggested bear in mind the consequences," Penny said.

"A false allegation of racist conduct is an allegation which involves more sophisticated thought processes which had hitherto been going on, on that football pitch."

In Court 1 at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Penny said, based on Terry's account, Ferdinand would not know the defender would repeat the words.

"If Mr. Ferdinand was in the business of getting Mr. Terry in trouble he struck lucky," Penny said.

Based on Terry's defence, Ferdinand would have been a "clueless conspirator," Penny said, before adding "what sort of accuser claims not to have heard the offensive words?"

Ferdinand testified that he didn't hear the comments and only became aware of them through internet clips afterward.

Terry's defence team later said that he could have misheard "Bridge" as "black," prompting his belief that a claim of racism was being wrongly claimed.

Ferdinand had initially wanted football authorities to deal with the case rather than the police and had been reluctant to report the incident. The case was sparked by an off-duty police officer's complaint.

"What was in this for Anton Ferdinand ... this case may follow him for the rest of his career," Penny said on the fourth day of the trial. "He made it clear he did not wish to be here (in court), just like Mr. (Ashley) Cole," the prosecutor said. "Was it simply in the case of Ferdinand because he had made a grave and false allegation against the England captain?"

Terry was stripped by the Football Association of the England captaincy in February when this case was delayed until after the European Championship, leading Fabio Capello to quit as coach for believing his authority had been undermined.

Terry also lost the captaincy - before later being reinstated - in 2010 when reports first surfaced about the alleged affair Ferdinand taunted him about in the match at the centre of the case.

The defence used its closing speech to describe Ferdinand as "inconsistent and unreliable" with his recollection of the words and events at the heart of the case.

"This is not a case about racism. The prosecution in cross-examination conceded that he is not a racist," lawyer George Carter-Stephenson said.

"The way that this case is put is that on this occasion Mr. Terry completely lost his cool and made an inappropriate remark making reference to a physical characteristic of Mr. Ferdinand, namely his colour, in response to words conceded to have been repeated
taunts and insults referring to his alleged affair with Mr. Bridge's partner."

Carter-Stephenson said Terry had faced such abuse "hundreds of times before" and had not previously lost his temper.

"Can it really be right that Mr. Terry totally loses his cool, as suggested by the prosecution, in relation to a further taunt by Mr. Ferdinand?" Carter-Stephenson asked.

- AP


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