There is no evidence former Premier League player Joey Barton was “someone in a rage” moments before a rival manager suffered injuries to his face in the tunnel after a match, his barrister has told a jury.
Simon Csoka QC was making his closing speech to jurors at the trial of Barton, who is accused of assaulting then Barnsley manager Daniel Stendel following a League One match in April 2019.
Barton, 39, is accused of barging Mr Stendel in the tunnel at the South Yorkshire side’s Oakwell stadium, causing the German coach to hit his face on a metal support and leaving him bloodied and with a dislodged tooth.
Mr Stendel told the jury earlier this week how he was walking down the tunnel after Barnsley’s 4-2 victory over Barton’s Fleetwood Town when he was knocked over by a push from behind.
The jury of six women and five men have been shown video footage of Mr Stendel walking into the tunnel, at the corner of the stadium, followed by Barton, jogging, moments later.
But giving evidence on Thursday, Barton denied it was he who shoved Mr Stendel.
The jurors have also seen mobile phone footage of part of the handshake between the two managers at the end of the match, on April 13 2019.
Mr Stendel said Barton was aggressive at this handshake, swearing at him.
Barton admitted that he used “industrial language” during the encounter but denied he had been “hostile and aggressive”.
Mr Csoka stressed that it was not the jury’s task to decide how it was that Mr Stendel received his injuries.
The barrister said: “Even if it was an accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he (Barton) would have been aware of what he did, especially if you consider the domino effect we are familiar with in crowded areas.”
He showed the jury video footage of his client in what he said was friendly conversation with a Barnsley player and the referee on the pitch after the match, moments before he ran to the tunnel.
In his evidence Barton said he was discussing his time playing for Marseille with the rival player, who is a fan of the French team, and had simply asked the referee a question about whether a red card issued to one of his players was a “straight red” or after two yellow cards.
Mr Csoka said this was “not consistent with someone in a rage”.
He told the jury: “This is a case where you cannot possibly be sure.”
Judge Richardson QC began his summing-up to the jury by saying: “There is no doubt that football is a sport that provokes outpourings of passion and emotion.”
Barton, who is now Bristol Rovers manager, denies one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
He sat in the dock on Friday wearing a dark suit, a royal blue shirt and a dark tie.
Judge Richardson continued his summing-up on Friday afternoon and told the jurors they will be sent out to consider their verdict on Monday.
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