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Sean Long hopes to put traumatic 18 months behind him after clearing his name
FORMER Saints icon Sean Long is aiming to put 18 months of torment behind him after a court ruled he was not guilty of throttling a disabled woman in her home.
The ex-scrum-half walked free on Tuesday after denying grabbing the neck of his ex-tenant Pamela Twist, 41, at a house in Rainford in May 2012.
It had been alleged he turned up unannounced with another unnamed man, looking for her then husband over unpaid rent.
But after a two-day trial at St Helens Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Ian Lomax cleared Long, who denied a confrontation with Ms Twist had ever taken place and claimed the allegation was malicious.
Mr Lomax said he could not categorically say which of the parties was telling the truth before adding: “We are in a situation where I have to give you the benefit of the doubt.”
As the verdict was delivered, Long, a three-time Lance Todd trophy winner who made more than 300 appearances for Saints during a golden era for the club, appeared nervous as he listened intently to the judge.
Giving evidence in defence Long, now football manager at Featherstone Rovers, had said: “I’m devastated that someone has come out saying that I’m a woman beater, going round hitting women. I don’t hit women or men.
“I play rugby league and have been a good servant to my clubs.
”It’s giving me a bad name and that’s why I want to clear my name.”
He remained silent on leaving court. However, speaking after the verdict, his manager Graeme Taylor said: “It’s been a very traumatic 18 months while this process has been going on.
“Sean is relieved with the district judge’s outcome. Now he would like to get on with his life and coaching career.
“He wants to thank his legal team, in particular Sean Joyce, and hopes it’s the end of the matter.”
Long had rented his home in Billinge to the Twist family following the breakdown of his marriage.
When the rent hadn’t been paid for three months, it was alleged that he had traced the family, who had since left his property, and demanded answers.
However, Long’s solicitor Sean Joyce, accused Ms Twist, who gave her evidence from behind a screen, of fraudulently setting up an online catalogue account in the name of Long’s ex-wife Claire.
Mr Joyce said she made the accusation when she knew “the net was closing in on her”.
He said: “It was a calculated, manipulative allegation made in response to the allegation made against her.”
SEAN Long called on a gym manager, another ex-Saints player and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon as witnesses as he sought to disprove allegations he was a “woman beater”.
During prosecution evidence at St Helens Magistrates’ Court, Pamela Twist said that Long, 36, lost his temper when she was unable to say where her husband was, grabbing her by the neck.
A dramatic 999 call was played to the court, which appeared to be moments after the incident in which she twice claimed that Long had attacked her.
Following the breakdown of his marriage Long had rented out his Billinge home to the Twists.
It was alleged that when the rent hadn’t been paid for three months, Long discovered they left the property and tracked them down.
Having held the job of assistant coach at Salford at the time of the allegations, Long’s alibi was that following a club training session at Leigh Sports Village, he went to a gym in Golborne.
He had also broken his thumb while playing for Preston Grasshoppers and was unable to apply pressure with his right hand.
This was backed up by former Salford boss Phil Veivers a Saints full back in the 80s, who told the court: “(At that time) He still had the brace on when I (had been hoping) to get him to play because the half backs were injured.”
Also giving evidence in court was Dr Michael Hayton, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, who had treated Long previously for a broken thumb.
He said that someone with such an injury would find it extremely painful to attempt to try to strangle anyone.
Kieron Billsborough, manager of The Gym in Golborne refuted claims that Long could have left so soon after signing in for his training session.
He said Long was a regular visitor and stuck to a strict routine: “I would know if he left early because he would have to walk past me on the front desk.
“He is always there between 50 minutes and an hour.”
Questioned by Long’s solicitor Sean Joyce, Ms Twist, who gave her evidence from behind a screen, was accused of making the claim borne out of revenge. It was a claim she denied.
In an attempt to discredit Long’s character, prosecutor Andrew Hodgson made reference to an unconditional discharge received in 1996 for fracturing a woman’s cheekbone during a night out and a caution for common assault against a man in January 2012.
Mr Joyce said: “Neither of these (17 years apart) is evidence of a propensity to carry out an offence in this case.”
Long was found not guilty by District Judge Ian Lomax.