Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie cleared of assaulting Nottingham Forest fan
Sheffield United footballer Oli McBurnie has been cleared of assault after a fan claimed he was stamped on by the striker.
McBurnie was accused of singling out and attacking a Nottingham Forest fan during last season's Championship play-off semi-final on 17 May.
George Brinkley, 27, said he had feared for his life after being put in a headlock by McBurnie's teammate during a pitch invasion. He claimed that McBurnie had then stamped on him three times.
However, the 26-year-old Scotland international denied the charge, saying he had hopped over Mr Brinkley to protect his own injured foot.
McBurnie was found not guilty of assault by beating at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on Thursday, 15 December.
District Judge Leo Pyle said his judgement was based on evidence heard in court and "not the instant judgement of social media".
He said that social media footage of the alleged incident showed that "the defendant's foot is nowhere near Mr Brinkley's left shin" and that McBurnie "quickly and clearly lifts his leg up to avoid the complainant".
Judge Pyle added that some of the evidence given by Mr Brinkley was "somewhat flimsy".
In her closing speech, McBurnie's barrister Lisa Judge told the court that Mr Brinkley had lied about the incident and shown malice by sending an abusive message on Instagram wishing death on McBurnie and his family.
She also said there was "a degree of club bias" in the accounts given by witnesses to the incident.
A spokesperson for Sheffield United said the club was "pleased" with the verdict, but that they were "disappointed that McBurnie was forced to stand trial" after the "traumatic" pitch invasion.
Speaking outside the court room, McBurnie told reporters he had been instructed to make no comment on the outcome of the case.
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