Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand gives evidence in harassment trial

18 April 2011 02:35
Giving evidence: Rio Ferdinand arrives at Macclesfield Magistrates' Court on Monday

Rio Ferdinand has told a court he was left 'angry and upset' by a woman who repeatedly turned up at his home.

The 32-year-old Manchester United and England star was giving evidence in the trial of Susanne Ibru, 38, accused at Macclesfield Magistrates' Court of harassment of him and his family.

Ibru, formerly of Peckham, south London, but now of Queens Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, allegedly turned up at the footballer's home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, three times between February and June last year, the court heard. She denies the charge and is representing herself in the proceedings.

Ian Davies, for the prosecution, said the first incident happened in the early hours of February 21. Ferdinand and his wife, Rebecca, were asleep in bed when she woke him after hearing the buzzer of the intercom at the entrance gate to their home.

The footballer told District Judge Nicholas Sanders that he went to the bathroom window to see who was at the gates and saw a figure wearing a hooded top in the darkness. He said he shouted down to see who it was and the figure looked up and he was able to see it was Ibru.

Asked by Mr Davies how he felt, Ferdinand said: 'At first I was angry and upset but then disturbed, really, because I have got a young family and this was not the time or the place to be coming to speak to me.'

The player called his club's security staff, who alerted police, and then watched on his CCTV as Ibru walked away. She was stopped by police at the end of the road, the court heard, and later allowed on her way.

Ibru returned to the house on June 16, the court was told. Ferdinand said he spotted her on the road opposite his house as he returned home that evening at around 8pm. He called the police and decided to speak to her to ensure she did not leave before they arrived.

'My main concern was to keep her there until the police arrived,' he said. 'I asked why she had come to my house and she told me "Things needed to be resolved", and that they couldn't be resolved until we spoke. I told her I would speak to her then but she said it would take a couple of hours.'

Defendant: Susanne Ibru (centre) is accused of harassing Ferdinand and his family

Asked by Mr Davies if he had any idea, then or now, why Ibru attended his home and wanted to speak to him, the footballer said: 'No.'

Mr Davies asked: 'Did she suggest any reason for coming to your house as opposed to the club, the training ground or Old Trafford?'

Ferdinand said she said words along the lines of: 'I'm not just a fan', and 'Don't associate me with being a fan, I'm more than that'.

He added that the second visit caused him to consider upgrading the security at his house. 'Again, I was disturbed,' he said. 'I had been out of the house and it really alarmed me (that she was there).'

Police attended and Ibru was given a formal warning to leave the couple alone. But her third alleged visit came just two days later, in the early hours of June 18. Again the footballer and his wife were woken by the buzzer from their gates so he called police and Ibru was arrested.

'The safety of my family is as huge to me as it is to anyone,' he said. 'Then you have people at your door talking about things that don't make sense. You want to be left alone with your family.'

Shaken: Ferdinand said he was 'angry and upset but then disturbed' at Ibru's visit to his home

Cross-examined by the defendant, Ferdinand, wearing a Manchester United tracksuit, stood in the witness box with his hands clasped behind his back. Ibru, wearing a black dress, put it to him that she had been to his home about four or five times during the last four years. She asked him: 'Do you think that amounts to harassment?' The footballer replied: 'Yes.'

She also asked him if he remembered the first time they met, in 1998 at the home of his stepfather's mother. He said he did not remember the occasion. Ibru said: 'I remember that very well - the first time setting my eyes on you, not just in a newspaper.'

She then put it to Ferdinand that, although she admitted visiting his home, it did not amount to harassment. The District Judge intervened and said the decision to prosecute was not a matter for the witness.

Ferdinand said: 'I called the police because I didn't want you at my house.'

After being asked if she had any further questions for the footballer, Ibru said no and he was released from the witness box. As he left the court, she said: 'I'll see you soon, bye.'

Rebecca Ferdinand, 30, was excused from giving evidence after giving birth to their third child, a girl, at the weekend. 

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Source: Daily_Mail