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Friends cleared of mass brawl in St. Edmund's Church in Southampton
9:10am Thursday 6th September 2012 in News
TWO men accused of being involved in a brawl in a church during a Christmas Eve mass have been cleared by a jury.
The panel took just less than four and a half hours to reach not guilty verdicts by a majority decision against Paulo Rodrigues, 32, and Jose Barradas, 27, who were both charged with affray.
The pair walked free from Southampton Crown Court following the week-long trial without comment.
As previously reported by the Daily Echo , the pair were accused of being with a third man when trouble flared at St Edmund’s Church in The Avenue during Midnight Mass last year.
Although it was accepted that the third man in the group was the ringleader, the two Portuguese nationals were accused with also being involved in the violent scenes that saw chairs being thrown and fights breaking out.
Giving evidence, parishioners spoke of their fear while others described cowering in alcoves while the violence erupted.
However, the pair always maintained they were trying to pull their friend away from the trouble he had started and were not involved themselves.
Speaking through an interpreter during his evidence, Rodrigues – a kitchen porter who moved to England four years ago – admitted being “a bit tipsy” that night and that he and two others had been making a bit of noise during the service for which he was “ashamed”.
It was when a woman approached the group and began shouting at one of his friends that trouble flared and all three were escorted out, before his friend, who now had blood on his face, came back inside.
“I tried to pull him out to calm things down, and didn’t throw any chairs,” said Rodrigues, of Lyon Street, Southampton .
Barradas, of Derby Road, Southampton, who came to England about 13 years ago, also denied looking for revenge after seeing his friend’s bloodied face.
Also speaking through an interpreter, the chef admitted he had drunk six or seven bottles of lager but said he was not drunk.
He also claimed he had been trying to calm things down and help take his friend outside.
The third man was arrested by police but failed to answer bail and is understood to have left the country.