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Shakin’ Stevens wins snapper assault appeal

Eighties singing star Shakin’ Stevens has been cleared of attacking a Press photographer and smashing his camera with a microphone stand during a Christmas concert in Ballymena in 2008.

The 63-year-old Buckinghamshire-based artist said he had been “vindicated” by the decision of Ballymena County Court to quash his assault and criminal damage convictions and said that “justice has been done”.

In January last year he was ordered to pay snapper and self-confessed Shakey fan Hugo McNeice £479 by way of compensation for smashing his camera lens during the Tullyglass Hotel gig, and fined a total of £300 for assault and criminal damage.

However, yesterday Judge Kennedy ruled that the Ballymena photographer was not a “witness of truth”, and agreed to defence lawyer David Russell's application to throw the case out.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Barratt said while he was “disappointed the charges were brought in the first place ... I am absolutely delighted and endorse Her Honour Judge Kennedy's decision and comments about Mr McNeice”.

The singer said: “I feel that the decision of the court has vindicated me and my position. I was always innocent of these charges.

“Justice has been done.”

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Mr McNeice said later he was “disgusted at being called a liar”, and asked: “Does the ruling also make my witnesses liars too?”

Thanking the people of Ballymena for their support, he added that now he only wanted “to get on with my life and hope this millstone rubs off ... and hopefully the matter will never be mentioned to me again”.

Earlier he had listened as the judge said that he had a “tendency to exaggerate”, but that “what concerns me most is Mr McNeice's ability to lie to the court”.

In her ruling, Judge Kennedy later added that she did not “consider that Mr McNeice is a witness of truth, which in this case is fatal, because there is no other reliable witness to support the allegations he makes”.

The freelance photographer had claimed he'd been tasked by his local newspaper the Ballymena Times to cover the concert.

He said: “He was singing away, performing, and I thought I would get a few nice photographs.

“Next thing the microphone stand came down towards the lens. Then it banged the camera and the back of the camera hit my head.”

At the original Ballymena Magistrates Court hearing the singer had accused the snapper of wanting his “five minutes of fame”.

Mr Barrett had also maintained he was “100% definitely sure” he never touched Mr McNiece or his camera, whom he claimed was showing off to friends.

He said that the taking of photographs during a concert was not allowed, and added had he “not stopped him he would have continued taking terrible photographs”.

Background

Platinum-selling ’80s Welsh pop star Shakin' Stevens — born Michael Barratt on March 4, 1948 — has notched up 33 Top 40 hit singles over the years. His career began in the late 1960s, although it was not until 1980 that he saw commercial success in the UK. In 1985 he became the first artist to appear 50 times on Top Of The Pops.


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