Roy Keane found not guilty of road rage

SoccerBy Sunday World
Roy Keane arrives in court this morning
Roy Keane arrives in court this morning
Roy Keane appeared in Manchester Magistrates' Court today
Roy Keane appeared in Manchester Magistrates' Court today

The Ireland assistant manager has been found not guilty over an alleged road-rage incident with a taxi driver in Altrincham.

Update: 13.06: 

Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has been found not guilty at Manchester Magistrates' Court of a public order offence involving an alleged road rage incident.

District Judge Duncan Birrell said there was something of the "thwarted fan" about Mr Kerar and Keane's lawyer described the whole incident as a "storm in a tea cup".

Keane was cleared of causing harassment, alarm or distress to Mr Kerar - a Public Order offence.

Dismissing the case against Keane, the judge told him: "I have listened with great care to the evidence in your case. The burden of proof is on the prosecution.

"It's my view, taking, as I have said, a careful account of the evidence, that they have failed to discharge their burden; therefore I find you not guilty."

He added that the evidence was "riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities".

He told Keane: "You probably will regret getting out of the car."

The defendant made no reaction as the verdict was given.

Update: 12.13:

A cab driver has described how Roy Keane followed and "aggressively" confronted him after he had waved at the ex-Manchester United captain in the street.

Football fan Fateh Kerar, 44, who said 'I love Roy Keane', told a court the alleged road rage incident took place in January after he recognised Keane sitting in his black 4x4 at a junction near traffic lights in Ashley Road, Altrincham, Cheshire.

The cabbie told Manchester Magistrates' Court that Keane, 43, now the assistant manager of Ireland, stared at him aggressively then followed him when he drove way.

Keane, who denies any wrongdoing, is alleged to have made a 'V' sign towards Mr Kerar then got out of his vehicle shouting and waving his arms about before driving off.

Mr Kerar, who was allowed to give evidence from behind a screen, told the court he had pulled over at a bank to allow his passenger to get cash.

As he did so he said he noticed Keane in his car across the road, telling the court he recognised him from his days at United and adding: "I love Roy Keane and I love football."

He said: "When I parked my car I looked to the left and it was Roy Keane parked in his car. I looked at him, he looked at me. He kept staring at me in my face.

"He was looking at me very aggressively, saying something in his car. I couldn't hear him. He was looking at me very aggressively. I have never met him before. He was giving me bad looks."

Mr Kerar said he made a wave gesture to him but that Keane made no response and continued to stare at him for between 10 and 15 seconds.

He said he set off to Altrincham Station with his fare and Keane followed him "straight away" before "jumping" out of his car.

He told the court Keane opened his door and was directing his anger at him.

"He jumped from his car and he was swearing, aggressive.

"I could hear from him his Irish accent. He was very mad. He was swearing, mad and he lost his temper. He was very aggressive. He put his finger to me like that (gestured V sign).

"He was of course 'f******' and 'f******'.

"I'm not going to say what he said. He was swearing, 'you f******' this, 'you f***' that.

"I'm not sure exactly what he was saying. I said to him to go back to his car.

"He was mad and aggressive. He was swearing at me. I can't remember what he was saying."

He said people were staring and he told Keane, "just get back to your car".

"I heard him say, 'what's wrong with you', in an Irish accent."

"I could see everybody looking at me. I stopped outside the station, I was shaking. I said to the lady, 'look at me I'm shaking'."

He told the court that he then went to Altrincham Police Station.

Cross-examining the witness, Stuart Denney QC, representing Keane, questioned why, after going to the police, he next rang the Manchester Evening News, asking if he was seeking publicity.

Mr Kerar replied: "No. I want this court to punish Roy Keane, what he did to me. I don't want publicity."

The witness agreed that he spoke to a reporter but claimed he did not want to have his name in the papers.

Mr Denney asked: "Did you make that account as bad as you possibly could to maximise embarrassment to Mr Keane?"

Mr Kerar replied: "I took the anger from my heart and I said it to the news."

Mr Kerar said he had been a taxi driver for 12 years and he knew how to handle customers.

Mr Denney questioned the witness's account, suggesting that, at the start of the episode, Keane was simply sitting in his car, waiting for someone and staring into space.

Mr Kerar disagreed, saying: "His eyes came to my eyes. He was looking at me very bad. I thought I was paranoid.

"I never met him before. I'm only a taxi driver. Maybe he's having a bad day."

Keane has pleaded not guilty to the allegation, said to have happened around 11.15am on January 30.

The defendant, wearing a black suit, white shirt and blue tie, was asked to stand, give his date of birth and address, and entered his not guilty plea to causing harassment, alarm or distress to Mr Kerar - a Section 4A Public Order offence.

Mark Angus, opening the case for the prosecution, said Mr Kerar had "gestured a smile with his hands" in response to Keane's "aggressive" stare.

He said: "He drove off and Mr Keane follows behind.

"At a junction the defendant gave a 'V' sign towards Mr Kerar and then gets out of his vehicle. At this point he becomes aggressive, shouting and waving his arms around towards Mr Kerar and his passenger.

"He then gets back in his vehicle and drives away."

Keane sat listening intently, arms folded, as the case opened in a courtroom packed with reporters.

It was suggested to Mr Kerar by Mr Denney that the footballer had "nodded to him briefly".

The barrister said Keane had pulled up in traffic alongside him to let pedestrians cross and did get out of his car but stayed next to it.

He said to Mr Kerar: "You smiled a big fake or idiotic smile at him, suggesting to him for a second time that he should smile. As he turned right you indicated a 'V' sign with one hand to him. Meaning effectively 'buzz off you miserable person'.

"Did you say then 'you need to cheer up'?"

Mr Kerar said: "No, I never use signs like that. I didn't say that."

Mr Kerar's passenger Hothan Isman told the court that after she got in the cab, the driver pointed out the footballer parked across the street.

Miss Isman said: "I looked over and saw him staring towards us, towards our vehicle, looking directly at us.

"In fact it was not just a glance because I was quite surprised how focused he was. It was uncomfortable, aggressive."

The prosecutor asked how long this went on for.

Miss Isman replied: "Long enough to notice that it was not just a passing look. A few minutes.

"Initially, because of the status of Mr Keane, we acknowledged him and the taxi driver smiled at him. He just continued to glare."

After they drove away she said Keane followed.

Miss Isman continued: "Mr Keane was still following behind us. We were talking and the taxi driver wondered whether Mr Keane was being racist towards him and I said, 'No, I just think it's not personal. I just think he's being quite arrogant."

As the cars pulled up at a junction the witness said Keane got out of his car and approached.

She continued: "Mr Keane got out of his vehicle and walked over to our taxi and he was shouting and moving his hands around and being aggressive."

Miss Isman said she could not hear what was being said as the windows of the cab were up because it was snowing outside.

Asked how she felt, the witness replied: "Er, scared. Shocked, upset. I was worried."

The prosecutor continued: "How was the taxi driver?"

She replied: "He was shocked. He was shaking and upset. We were both quite shocked and surprised by the situation."

Smiling and looking relaxed, the 43-year-old was accompanied by his legal team for the day-long hearing at Manchester Magistrates' Court, with press and TV cameramen awaiting his arrival outside court.

Keane, from Hale, Cheshire, is said to have behaved aggressively towards cabbie Fateh Kerar, 44, near traffic lights in Ashley Road on January 30.

He is accused of causing harassment, alarm or distress to Mr Kerar - a Section 4A Public Order offence.

He entered a not guilty plea at an earlier hearing.

Mr Kerar and a taxi passenger are expected to give evidence for the prosecution, while the defence will call Keane and an additional witness.

Mr Kerar, from Altrincham, claims an altercation took place after he and his passenger noticed Keane in his Range Rover vehicle.

The tough-tackling midfielder enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Old Trafford and also played for Nottingham Forest and Glasgow Celtic.

His no-nonsense approach, on and off the field, has seen him establish himself as a straight-talking TV football pundit.

Keane has also managed Sunderland and Ipswich Town and was assistant boss at Aston Villa before he quit to concentrate on a similar role he holds with the Republic of Ireland's national team.