Scotland star McBurnie cleared of assaulting fan during pitch invasion

The Sheffield United forward was accused of stamping on a pitch-invading fan after a play-off loss.

Scotland striker Oli McBurnie cleared of assaulting Nottingham Forest fan during pitch invasion SNS Group

Scotland striker Oli McBurnie has been cleared of assaulting a Nottingham Forest fan during a play-off semi-final pitch invasion.

The Sheffield United player was at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Friday when he was acquitted of the assault charge.

The 29-year-old denied stamping on a pitch-invading supporter, claiming he hopped over the alleged victim to protect his injured foot.

Prosecutors alleged McBurnie suffered “a loss of temper and control” and twice stamped on George Brinkley after the Sheffield club’s Championship play-off semi-final defeat in May.

Mr Brinkley, 27, told a court on Wednesday that he was singled out among hundreds of fans on the pitch at the City Ground and attacked, after telling the star: “You’re s*** at football.”

A video of the incident, which went viral on social media, was played at McBurnie’s trial.

Finding McBurnie, of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, not guilty of a single charge of assault by beating, District Judge Leo Pyle said his judgment was based on evidence heard in court and “not the instant judgment of social media”.

In his ruling, the district judge said some of the evidence given by alleged victim Mr Brinkley had been “somewhat flimsy”.

The district judge had been urged by McBurnie’s barrister to find that “a degree of club bias” was responsible for accounts given by witnesses to the incident.

In her closing speech to the court, defence lawyer Lisa Judge submitted that the complainant in the case had lied about the incident, and shown malice by sending an abusive Instagram message wishing death on McBurnie and his family.

Referring to a video screenshot which the prosecution claimed showed 6ft 4ins McBurnie, who weighs 90 kilos, looking angry on the pitch, Ms Judge said the player may have a “stern resting face.”

The lawyer added: “The prosecution opened this case on that boot following through into a stamp.

“It’s quite clear that boot lifted up like a ballerina, trying to clear the legs of Mr Brinkley (who was) clutching his bottle and his programme, lying on the floor of a pitch he should not have been on.”

The centre-forward is yet to score in 16 caps for the national team but he did score one of the penalties in the shootout victory over Serbia that secured a spot at Euro 2020.

But McBurnie, who cost Sheffield United around £20m, missed the tournament through injury.

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