Man caught with pool cue outside Kassam Stadium not guilty of weapons charge

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A man arrested after ‘twirling’ a pool cue told the magistrates he was ‘gutted’ to have been nicked – and claiming he was on his way home after being punched at the Hollywood Bowl.

Lee Ward was heading home through the Kassam Stadium car park and past crowds massing for Oxford United’s home game against Gillingham on September 25, 2021, when officers from Thames Valley and Kent Police stopped him.

Footage from one of the officer’s video cameras showed his heavily-bruised face. He mentioned he had been struck, but gave little detail and added: “I ain’t going to tell you what happened to my face.” The 28-year-old told the pair: “You lot are tyrants, bruv.”

Giving evidence to Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Monday, Ward said he had arrived at the Hollywood Bowl, near the Kassam Stadium, earlier in the day – although was unable to say what time.

He had been playing pool with a friend and drinking alcohol when he was punched in the face without warning by a ‘man in his 40s’, he said.

Ward said he ‘panicked’ and ran from the Hollywood Bowl with the wooden pool cue in his hand, having also pocketed the white cue ball as he fled. He said he intended to head back home to Blackbird Leys and was ‘gutted’ to be arrested.

PC Jamie Howell, who was monitoring Gillingham fans together with a sergeant from Kent Police, told the justices that they received reports of a man with a pool cue and a ball in his pocket.

He claimed to have seen Ward holding the cue vertically above his head and apparently trying to put it down his back, although the defendant denied it. The baton was twirled ‘like a cheerleader’, he added.

The officer told him to ‘put it down’, grabbed the item and threw it to one side. The defendant was ‘generally uncooperative’, resistant and failed to comply with instructions, the court heard.

He later failed to answer questions during his interview. He told the magistrates he assumed police would have viewed CCTV from the Hollywood Bowl.

Following his arrest, he was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital. During the journey he punched and kicked the side of the van and called the officers rude names.

At the hospital, he repeatedly called one officer a ‘by boy’ and described the other as a ‘Chinese d’.

The bench cleared him of possession of an offensive weapon, with chairman of the bench Anne Pappenheim concluding that Ward had panicked having been assaulted, was drunk and ‘just wanted to go home’.

Following his acquittal, the justices heard Ward, of Blackbird Leys Road, Oxford, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three public order offences relating to his behaviour following his arrest.

He was bailed to return to court on August 31 and a probation pre-sentence report ordered.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire’s court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward