Manchester

Roy Keane found not guilty of harassing a taxi driver in Altrincham

Roy Keane arrives at Manchester Magistrates" Court Image copyright PA
Image caption Roy Keane was cleared of causing harassment, alarm or distress

Former Manchester United star Roy Keane has been cleared of harassing a taxi driver.

Manchester Magistrates' Court heard he was accused of making a two-finger gesture and shouting aggressively at Fateh Kerar in Altrincham in January.

The 43-year-old was alleged to have "stared aggressively" at Mr Kerar after the driver did a "smile" gesture.

Mr Keane was found not guilty of the public order offence, with the judge hinting Mr Kerar was a "thwarted fan".

The Republic of Ireland assistant manager gave evidence from the witness box during the half-day trial.

Mr Keane's lawyer described the incident as a "storm in a tea cup".

Football fan Mr Kerar, 44, claimed Mr Keane gave him "bad looks" and later followed him in his car before making the two-finger gesture.

He told the court Mr Keane then got out of his black Land Rover and approached the cab swearing at him.

'Smirking gesture'

The former Ipswich and Sunderland manager said he was "chilling out, relaxing" in his car waiting for his wife when he noticed Mr Kerar across the road in his taxi.

Mr Keane said they nodded to acknowledge each other, but as they both moved off in their cars the cabbie made a "smirking gesture" by pushing the corners of his mouth up with his fingers.

At a junction, Mr Keane said he asked the driver "what's his problem.. two or three times".

"He said something like, 'You need to cheer up' along them lines," Mr Keane said.

He admitted swearing at him once, but denied "repeatedly" swearing and said he did not earlier make a two-finger gesture.

Dismissing the case against Mr Keane, District Judge Duncan Birrell said: "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 the evidence was "riddled with inconsistencies and improbabilities".

A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: "Upon receipt of a file from the police, we re-reviewed the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and decided that there was a realistic prospect of conviction and the case proceeded to a trial.

"The evidence was heard in full before the District Judge who reached the decision to acquit the defendant of the charge."

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