15 March 2006

Boxer Magee's nightmare ends as assault charge is thrown out

Belfast Telegraph

By Deborah McAleese
15 March 2006

World boxing champion Eamonn Magee last night said he wants to get on with his life after being cleared of assaulting a man during an incident which nearly ended his career.

The 34-year-old WBU welterweight holder from Belfast was in Lisburn Magistrates Court yesterday when the charge against him was dropped.

Magee was charged with headbutting Joseph Clarke (54) - the man who left him almost crippled after beating him with batons. Last month Clarke received a suspended three-year jail sentence for the attack.

Last night Mr Magee said he was delighted he could finally put the incident behind him. "I'm really glad it's all over. I was very seriously injured during the incident and then when Clarke was in court I was made out to be the aggressor. I am just glad the record can now be put straight," he said.

Mr Magee added: "For two years this has been hanging over me and it has been pretty bad for me and my family. "I knew that there was no case to answer to but when I was made out to be the worst guy in the world during the recent court case I wanted to prove that the claims against me were wrong."

Speaking outside the court yesterday the boxer's solicitor Aidan Deery said: "My client has been totally vindicated. As far as I am concerned there was no case to answer."

At the time of the attack it was feared that Mr Magee might never box again after one of his legs was broken in two places and the knee fractured. He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for compound fractures of his tibia and fibula before being transferred to the Ulster Hospital for skin grafts. Mr Magee also suffered a swollen hand and cuts to his face and mouth during the savage beating.

Last month, Clarke, from Lagmore Dale in Belfast, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm on the boxer, possessing a weapon - a three foot wooden baton - and causing criminal damage to a car.

The court heard that as Mr Magee and a friend drove through west Belfast on February 29, 2004, their car was attacked by Clarke and an unidentified male. They smashed the windows of the car and hit Mr Magee with batons around the legs several times. It is believed the incident followed an argument between Clarke and Mr Magee over their children.

Mr Magee is currently in strict training for his next big boxing fight in the King's Hall, Belfast, in May when he defends his title against Takaloo, a London-based Iranian.

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