It has just been confirmed that Harry Maguire has been found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and repeated attempts of bribery, along with friend Christopher Sharman and brother Joe Maguire. All three were absent from court today and had pleaded not guilty. Maguire has been given a suspended prison sentence of 21 months and 10 days as it is a first offence and charges were misdemeanours. United say Maguire “strongly asserts his innocence” and the club hopes for “full and fair hearing at a later date”.
England manager Gareth Southgate announced that Maguire was in his squad for next month’s games in the Nations League, having spoken to the United captain and believing the player’s version of events that he was innocent.
Maguire’s legal team had requested a postponement to the trial after the list of charges were only finalised yesterday. This meant that his lawyer, Alexis Anagnostakis, only received a hard copy of the file in the morning, just two hours ahead of the trial. He said he didn’t have the time to discuss the charges in depth with his clients before the trial began as a result. He repeatedly appealed for an adjournment but this was denied by the judge.
Once the trial began, Maguire’s defence claimed two Albanian men approached his sister Daisy and they injected her with something and she fainted. Ashden Morley, a childhood friend of Maguire, said that Maguire’s fiancé Fern noticed that Daisy’s eyes were rolling back in her head. The group suspected two “Albanian” men had injected her with rape drug. They called for their van and asked to be driven to hospital but driver took them to the police department instead. They claimed that when they arrived at police station they were assaulted by police officers who kicked Harry on his leg and told him “your career is over”.
The prosecution claimed that plain clothes police officers intervened to try calm the situation but the English men didn’t calm down and one of the defendants said “fuck, fuck the police”, while another of the defendants punched an officer. They also claimed that once at the police station Maguire said: “Do you know who I am? I am the captain of Manchester United, I am very rich, I can give you money, I can pay you, please let us go.”
Maguire’s friends, family and former teammates leapt to his defence on social media after learning this, claiming it is something Maguire would never say.
“This is crazy,” Laurence Maguire, Harry’s brother, said on Twitter. “Anyone who knows Harry now knows this whole story is fabricated.”
Connor Brown, a friend of Maguire’s, said: “What a load of rubbish, any one who knows Harry knows he’s the most down to earth and humble guy about and this isn’t in his nature.”
A police officer, Nikolaos Kolios, who was a witness for prosecution, was then cross examined by Maguire lawyer. He claimed he didn’t see two Albanian men hitting the English group. He was asked how, then, he would explain the serious injuries found on one of defendants by the medical examination, for which he didn’t have an answer.
Kolios continued by saying that two of the defendants ran away from them to get in a van. He says they pushed the officers away with their hands and kicked them as soon as the van door opened. The defence claimed they were breaking away to make a phone call but the officer said that he didn’t see them make any call. Kolios said he received first aid while trying to make arrest because Maguire became enraged when he realised he was handcuffed and tried to break away from him.
A second police supported the story of the first, claiming that at the station Maguire said to him: “please, let me go, I am very rich, I can pay, I am the leader of Manchester United.”
Another officer said that during handcuffing Maguire, the player pushed him hard and he fell over. His back and leg were injured as a result. He was injected with painkillers and took the next day off to recover.
Anagnostakis argued that Maguire’s rights were not respected during the arrest as the police officers’ identities and instructions were not made known to them. He says the evidence relating to the bribery charge was very vague, claiming Maguire didn’t specify what he wanted to pay, with the suggestion the player was talking about bail money rather than bribery. The officers claimed that the men had been abusive about Greece, to which the lawyer responded: “they would never say ‘fuck Greece,’ they love the country, and are keen on the ancient Greek culture.”