Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Sterling assault case collapses

Raheem Sterling has been found not guilty of assault

The assault case against Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling collapsed on Friday when his former girlfriend failed to support the prosecution's case by giving "disappointing" evidence.

Sterling was alleged to have attacked 19-year-old model Shana Ann Rose Halliday following a row about a text message, Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard.

But Sterling, from Southport, was formally found not guilty by magistrates when the Crown Prosecution Service withdrew its case after magistrates refused to treat Miss Halliday as a hostile witness.

Sara Drysdale, prosecuting, made an application to the bench asking for the complainant to be "treated as a hostile witness".

She said: "The crown would say that Miss Halliday has demonstrated an unwillingness to tell the truth about what has happened."

She said Miss Halliday, who gave evidence to the court behind a screen, had given "conflicting accounts" to her previous statements to the police and which also differed from her original 999 call to the police on the night in question.

But Stuart Driver QC, defending, said the prosecution was engaging in a "straw-clutching exercise" and just because the witness had given "disappointing evidence" did not mean she was a hostile witness.

He said: "A hostile witness is just that; and it requires a lot more than a witness who disappoints the prosecution by saying things happened in a way that doesn't amount to a criminal offence. That's just what we have here."

At times Miss Halliday failed to answer prosecution questions and was often so quiet she was inaudible.

She told the court: "We just had a heated argument because I seen a text on his phone and asked who it was.

"We were pushing and shoving, both of us, and I started it because I was trying to get his phone."

Mr Driver added: "She has given evidence, slowly but in detail, and it's unfavourable to the prosecution case. She is far from being a hostile witness."

Anthony Leo, chairman of the bench, told the court: "Although she is an unfavourable witness for the prosecution, she is not hostile."

After the bench made its decision, Miss Drysdale said there was "no longer a realistic prospect of conviction".

Sterling, wearing a black suit, white shirt and blue tie, was called back into the dock and formally found not guilty to the charges.

When she opened the case Miss Drysdale told the court how the allegations centred on a night out at a Manchester restaurant in August.

The couple were celebrating Miss Halliday's birthday, the court heard.

"It's the crown's case that there was an argument between the two in the restaurant where they had gone to have a meal and they continued in the car journey home," she said.

"It's the crown's case that the defendant assaulted Miss Halliday in the vehicle."

The complainant initially alleged that she was further assaulted by the defendant when the car stopped at a service station and when they got to their destination in Liverpool where she called 999.

Miss Drysdale said Sterling was the "aggressor".

During her evidence Miss Halliday said there was "pushing and shoving" in the car and that Sterling told her to get out of the car while it was still moving.

The 18-year-old winger was arrested on August 8 at 10.30pm following the incident in Torpoint Close, Huyton, Liverpool, and spent a night in custody before appearing in court the following morning.

Miss Halliday, from Liverpool, was crowned the winner of England's Top Model of the World beauty pageant earlier this year.

She went on to contest the pageant's world final in Egypt and reportedly works as a sales assistant for the Hollister clothing chain.

A spokesman for Liverpool Football Club said: "This is a private matter for Raheem and as such we will not be making any further comment."

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