Following a five-day trial in London, chief magistrate Howard Riddle has cleared Chelsea defender John Terry of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand
during an English Premier League match last fall.
Terry, 31, had denied committing a racially aggravated public order offense when he and Ferdinand exchanged expletives. In evidence, he admitted using the highly offensive words, but maintained he was sarcastically repeating what Ferdinand mistakenly thought he had said.
During cross-examination, Ferdinand agreed he had sworn at players in the past and been on the receiving end himself. He said he was angry at Terry seeking a penalty call and he also referred to an alleged affair between Terry and the ex-girlfriend of a former teammate. Riddle said the prosecution presented a strong case and that there was no doubt Terry had used offensive language.
In summing up, he said: "Even with all the help the court has received from television footage, expert lip readers, witnesses and indeed counsel, it is impossible to be sure exactly what were the words spoken by Mr. Terry at the relevant time. It is a crucial fact that nobody has given evidence that they heard what Mr. Terry said or more importantly how he said it. He has given effectively the same account throughout. Insofar as there are discrepancies in his account, they are understandable and natural. In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty."