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Sheffield United’s McBurnie cleared of assaulting pitch invader

Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie was cleared Thursday of stamping on a pitch invader by an English court.

The 26-year-old Scotland international was acquitted of assaulting Nottingham Forest supporter George Brinkley, after the player’s lawyer told Nottingham Magistrates’ Court he had been “like a ballerina” in avoiding contact with the fan.

Prosecutors alleged McBurnie was in a “red mist” after United had lost on penalties in a second-tier Championship play-off semi-final at Forest’s City Ground in May. 

In his ruling, district judge Leo Pyle said some evidence given by Brinkley had been “somewhat flimsy”.

He added: “(From) what I’ve heard over the last few days, the prosecution hasn’t proved their case to the required standard.”

Defence lawyer Lisa Judge, in her closing speech to the court, argued Brinkley had shown malice by sending an abusive Instagram message wishing death on McBurnie and his family.

She also said: “The prosecution opened this case on that boot following through into a stamp.

“It’s quite clear that boot lifted up like a ballerina, trying to clear the legs of Mr Brinkley (who was) clutching his bottle and his programme, lying on the floor of a pitch he should not have been on.”

McBurnie, speaking outside the courtroom, told reporters he had been instructed to avoid commenting on the outcome of the case.

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