Prosecutors ask judges to resume Joey Barton domestic abuse trial

Prosecutors have asked judges to order that the trial of Joey Barton over domestic abuse allegations should resume after criminal proceedings against him were paused.

The former footballer was accused of assaulting his wife Georgia in a drunken row and was due to face trial at a magistrates’ court in 2022, but the case was adjourned after Mrs Barton sent a letter to prosecutors retracting her allegations.

A judge then ordered that proceedings be paused over concerns that a trial would be unfair to Mr Barton after prosecutors said they did not plan to ask Mrs Barton to give evidence in court.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Stephen Parkinson, is now appealing against the decision at the High Court in London, with barristers claiming on Wednesday that a fair trial “was possible”.

“The prosecution, consistent with its policy on prosecuting domestic abuse cases, had to strike a sensitive and careful balance between the expressed interests of Georgia Barton and the public interest in prosecuting cases of alleged domestic violence where there is sufficient evidence to prosecute notwithstanding that the complainant does not support, and does not wish to give evidence for, the prosecution.”

In court, Mr Little said: “A stay simply was not open to the judge on any view of the facts before him and the case should be returned to the magistrates’ court for trial.”

Mr Barton was manager of Bristol Rovers at the time of the trial and alleged assault and played for teams including Manchester City, Newcastle United and French side Marseille during his career.

He was accused of grabbing his wife by the throat and kicking her in the head during a row outside their home in Kew, south-west London, where they had been with two other couples on June 2 2021.

Mr Barton had denied a charge of assault by beating (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Mr Barton had denied a charge of assault by beating (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

But Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court heard in March 2022 that Mrs Barton wrote to prosecutors a month before the scheduled trial to claim that she was injured accidentally when friends intervened in an argument between the pair, having both drunk “four or five bottles of wine”.

She was not due to be called as a prosecution witness during the trial over fears she would give an untruthful account of events, but lawyers for Mr Barton said that this would leave him at a disadvantage as it meant she could not be questioned over inconsistencies in her evidence.

District Judge Andrew Sweet adjourned the case and paused criminal proceedings in October 2022, claiming it would “be unfair for Mr Barton to be tried”.

Mr Little said that pausing proceedings was a “last resort” and that the case should be allowed to resume.

He said: “The crown could have called Mrs Barton and the crown could have asked permission to treat her as a hostile witness but that is what might have been. It was not the decision that the crown made.”

In written submissions, he continued: “To paraphrase the inappropriate language in the application, the Crown Prosecution Service brought the administration of justice into disrepute by deploying unfair tactics and interfering with the clear duty of the officer in the case to investigate.

“The decision to issue a stay was a reasonable one, even if another judge may have decided it differently.”

Dame Victoria Sharp and Mr Justice Saini will give their judgment at a later date.

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