Gerrard ‘threw first punch’

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Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard assaulted a businessman outside a bar when he “threw the first punch”, a court has heard.

An altercation was partly captured on CCTV footage from a nearby bank obtained by an off-duty policewoman, said to be used as “a tool for blackmail”.

Paul Lloyd, 35, told Preston Crown Court he was later handed a DVD copy of the footage which he says shows the former England captain and 11 others attacking him in Formby, Merseyside, on August 4 last year.

His account was labelled as “nonsense” by a prosecutor who said that Gerrard, 34, was seeking to avoid any involvement in a confrontation and was attempting to defuse the situation.

Days later after the incident, Helen Jones, 33, on a career break from Merseyside Police, then went to the Lloyd’s Branch in Formby, “flashing her warrant card” to get a copy of the CCTV footage.

Jones, from Colchester Close, Chatham, Kent, a police officer of eight years, has admitted misconduct in a public office.

Mr Lloyd was today summoned to court to give evidence at a hearing for a judge to decide whether Jones’s conduct was not only illegal but, as the prosecution say, for “criminal purposes”.

Asked what was on the footage Mr Lloyd said: “It showed me on my own assaulted by 12 people and Steven Gerrard being aggressive and throwing the first punch, and all his friends thought it was right for me to be kicked and punched for four minutes.”

He said after viewing the footage he met up with Lee McPartland, a friend of Gerrard, and an offer to pay him money was made.

Mr Lloyd said; “Mr McPartland requested to smooth it over and buy me a drink. He said ‘I will get your money off Steven now. Let’s put this to bed’.

“I was not wanting money.”

Mr Lloyd told the court he did not know Jones and only became aware of her name when he read it in a newspaper.

He said he had received injuries from the incident, but did not go to hospital, and had considered going to the police.

“I couldn’t go through with it … because of the backlash and what I’m going through the moment,” he said.

In December he issued civil proceedings in relation to the incident against Gerrard, his wife Alex, and Mr McPartland.

In the same month he was arrested by police on suspicion of blackmail but he told the court he was released with no further action.

Roderick Jones, defending Jones, asked him: “Can you help us with whether or not Helen Jones might have been encouraged to get the tape in order to blackmail someone?”

Mr Lloyd replied: “No.”

Mr Jones continued: “Can you think of anyone who would do that?”

“No,” the witness repeated.

Yesterday, the court heard the dispute on August 4 at about 11pm occurred in a bar between Gerrard’s group of friends and another group including Mr Lloyd.

This then “spilt out” on to the pavement outside.

Mr Lloyd was not in court yesterday but said he read a newspaper report about the proceedings.

He said it was “nonsense” that Gerrard was a “a peacemaker” and the midfielder was “the aggressor, he threw the first punch”.

Richard Haworth, prosecuting, said to Mr Lloyd: “I am suggesting you have come here to give evidence about the incident which took place on the night of August 4th last year and that is all you’re interested in.

“Getting on your soapbox and shouting out loud and clear what you say happened.”

Mr Lloyd said: “No, I have been asked questions and I have answered them.”

He denied that he expressly wanted the press in the courtroom to hear about his allegations.

Mr Lloyd said he received a phone call offering him the DVD from “a friend of a friend” but was not prepared to name either.

He said: “I’m not getting anyone else involved in the case. It’s made my life a misery.”

He denied that he wanted to sell a story to the newspapers.

Mr Lloyd, who admitted he had “quite considerable debts”, also denied being instrumental in getting the DVD.

Mr Howarth said to him: “Are you being selective as to what you chose to answer because you were part and parcel of this scheme to blackmail.”

Mr Lloyd said: “No.”

Mr Haworth went on to ask him about why he did not go to the police after he viewed the footage.

The prosecutor said: “Didn’t you not want to go to the police because you were frightened you would be implicated in a blackmail plot? “

Mr Lloyd said: “No.”

Asked by Mr Jones to explain why his life had become “hell”, Mr Lloyd said: “I have been told to drop what is going on civilly.

“I have to had to move out of Formby, I have had death threats. It has turned my life upside down, business and personally.”

He said he had not reported those threats to the police but had told his lawyers Mishcon de Reya.

The court heard the civil writ was not served and expired in April.

He said he had been advised by his lawyers to wait until after the World Cup this summer.

The court heard that Mr Lloyd had been involved in discussions to reissue the proceedings.

Yesterday, Mr Haworth said that Jones had “succumbed to the temptation” of accepting money for getting hold of the footage”.

Mr Haworth continued: “The nature of what’s being sought, the individuals alleged to be involved in the incident that took place and the means by which the defendant was asked to obtain … ultimately this item, would be used as a means or tool to blackmail parties involved in the incident on the fourth of August, whether that was justified or not.

“That’s the irresistible inference the crown suggest.”

The court heard that in April 2013, Jones took a 12-month career break after being put on an “unsatisfactory performance procedure” by her employers.

On August 4 last year, Gerrard was celebrating his testimonial given by Liverpool FC on an evening out at Woodward’s Bar in Chapel Lane.

The day after, Gerrard’s friend Mr McPartland was contacted by someone he did not wish to name, requesting a meeting with Mr Lloyd, to “settle differences”, said Mr Haworth.

The meeting took place the same day with the differences seemingly ironed out – but not for long.

Mr Haworth read from a statement given by Gerrard, in which he said: “I consider the demands and threats made by Mr Lloyd during the exchange with me and Mr McPartland and in correspondence between his lawyers and my lawyers to be inappropriate and menacing.”

Mr Haworth said Gerrard’s friend Mr McPartland had also received numerous phone calls and threats.

He said it showed the “unpleasantness” and “menace” following the incident at the bar.

On August 8, the defendant went into the Lloyds Bank, not in uniform, but “flashing her warrant card” and got a copy of the CCTV footage showing the disturbance.

Days later the court heard Mr Lloyd again contacted Mr McPartland to arrange a meeting, where Mr Lloyd showed him the CCTV footage on a laptop and requested he “relate this” to Gerrard.

The prosecutor said Mr McPartland’s version of events was that Mr Lloyd said he had been offered a substantial amount of money from the press for his story.

Gerrard’s lawyers and Liverpool FC were then informed The Sun newspaper had allegedly been given a copy of the footage and police were called and an investigation began into where the footage came from – leading to the defendant.

Jones, formerly of Cressington Park, Liverpool, at first denied all knowledge until eventually admitting her involvement and pleading guilty to misconduct in a public office.

In a pre-prepared statement to officers she said she had not received any payment for getting hold of the footage.

Jones added: “I acted out of concern for someone who had previously complained they had been assaulted,” and said she got the footage to preserve it as evidence for use in a civil claim for damages.

But Mr Haworth said Jones had used her “position, her warrant card and her authority” to deceive the bank to obtain the CCTV for “criminal purposes” not to further a civil claim.

Jones would not name the friend who she gave the DVD copy of the CCTV footage to, as the press had made her life a “living hell” and she would not wish that on anyone else.

Mr Haworth accused the defendant of being “deliberately deceitful and dishonest”.

The CCTV footage was not shown in court and Judge Stuart Baker had not seen it, or been invited to see it.

He will give his ruling on the trial of issue on Friday.

Sentencing of Jones, who resigned from Merseyside Police, is expected to take place on a later date.

Published: Wednesday 26th November 2014 by The News Editor

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