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Former Nuneaton Boss Found Guilty of Assaults

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MAGISTRATES said they were satisfied without reasonable doubt that former Nuneaton Town boss Ian Neale was guilty of three assaults.

As featured in yesterday's News, the bench at Coventry magistrates found Mr Neale guilty after a two-day trial, which ended late on Wednesday afternoon.

Forty-eight-year-old Neale was convicted of assaulting David Allen, a former financial director at the football club – also known as 'the Boro' - and security guards Jacqueline Richards and Khalid Miah in the early hours of September 27 last year. They were among more than 500 people who attended an NSPCC ball.

Announcing the Bench's decision, presiding magistrate Roger Pulley told Neale: "We are satisfied without reasonable doubt that defendant was the aggressor and committed the initial assault on Mr Allen – and then proceeded to head-butt him...an act we have found not to be in self-defence."

He said magistrates found the security guards' evidence "convincing" and added that the assault on Ms Richards was reckless.

Mr Pulley told Neale it was the prosecution's duty to prove the case without reasonable doubt and added: "We have considered all circumstances and evidence during the last two days.

"We find that the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) witnesses – and particularly the so-called independent witnesses – were clearly credible and consistent as to the material issues in this case."

Mr Pulley said the Bench noted Neale said in evidence that he lost his spectacles during the incident which led to the assaults.

He added: "We found his account unconvincing. The three defence witnesses accounts of events did not cover the material issues. We are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was the aggressor and committed an initial assault on Mr Allen and then proceeded to head-butt him."

During the trial, prosecutor Rob Perry said Neale punched fellow guest Mr Allen four or five times during an unprovoked attack – and threatened to kill him.

Shortly afterwards, when Mr Allen had been taken outside the E.on lounge into a foyer area, Neale broke free from two security guards and attacked his 61-year-old victim again, raining four or five punches on him – and then head-butted him causing him to fall to the ground.

Neale also hit security guard Mr Miah twice in the face as he tried to calm him down, and Ms Richards was hit when Neale was "striking out at random."

When Mr Miah was in the witness box giving evidence, Mr Perry asked him to describe Neale's behaviour at the time. He replied: "animalistic".

The prosecutor told the court: "This was a ball for a children's charity but the only person behaving like a child that night was Mr Neale."

Neale, of Redruth Close, Horeston Grange, Nuneaton, claimed he acted in self-defence after Mr Allen "goaded" him.

He said Mr Allen was finance director of Nuneaton Town FC for about six months.

"There was a disagreement over the work that the finance director appeared to be carrying out for the club and what was actually happening."

He said shortly after he arrived at the charity ball, he saw Mr Allen "with a bit of a smug grin and a smile on his face as if to say 'yes we are here'.

"He may have mouthed something but it was more facial recognition."

Neale added: "He [Mr Allen] came forward to hit me. I was pushed out towards the door. We were both trying to punch each other.

"I was aware of other people becoming involved. I did not know they were security staff."

Magistrates adjourned the case until Wednesday, February 18 for the preparation of a pre-sentence report on Neale, who was given conditional bail.

Mr Pulley told him it would be an "all options report, up to and including a custodial sentence."

Neale was said to have "a previous historical offence" on his record from some years ago.

Summing up before the Bench adjourned for almost an hour to consider the evidence and returned to court announce their decision, the prosecutor said: "The security guards were doing their job and described what they saw happen. It was a completely unprovoked attack that left David Allen in hospital.

"Ian Neal was the aggressor – he was drunk and lost all control."

Summing up the defence case, barrister James McLernon said evidence had been given that Mr Allen put his drinking glass on a table when he saw Neale approaching "because he knew he was going to start a physical confrontation."

Mr McLernon referred to "inconsistencies" during evidence and told the Bench that [some] witnesses were "not being honest with you.The inconsistencies in this case are so great that it leaves doubt," he said.

He claimed Neale acted in self-defencewww.nuneaton-news.co.uk

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