A MAN has been cleared of assaulting the son of former Wales soccer star Kevin Ratcliffe.

The prosecution alleged student Dean Ratcliffe, 24, was struck with a piece of wood as the family tried to leave a restaurant.

But John Andrew Johnson, 57, denied assault and claimed he acted in self-defence.

He was found not guilty following an all-day trial at Flintshire Magistrates' Court at Mold yesterday.

In evidence, he said both Dean Ratcliffe and his father, ex-Wales and Everton defender Kevin Ratcliffe, had kicked him while he was on the ground.

Magistrates’ chairman Grahame Thomas said they had listened carefully to the evidence during a lengthy trial but had not relied on the evidence of Kevin Ratcliffe, his wife Sharon and son Dean because they contradicted each other in many ways.

Restaurant owner John Patterson, an independent prosecution witness, seemed to support the defence version of events, Mr Thomas said.

After the case Mr Johnson said through his solicitor Brian Cross that justice had been done. He now wanted to move on with his life.

In court, magistrates heard how Dean Ratcliffe, his father and mum together with his sister and girlfriend were at the restaurant when they ran into the family of former boy band member Matt Johnson, with whom they had a dispute over a boundary fence at their home in Ewloe, Deeside.

It was alleged Kevin Ratcliffe, on seeing Johnson’s father, John Andrew Johnson, at the Da Vinci’s Italian restaurant in Queensferry decided to leave.

Alun Humphreys, prosecuting, said as he left Kevin Ratcliffe was heard to refer abusively to Mr Johnson and Mr Johnson responded in kind.

“The Ratcliffes continued to file out with Mr Ratcliffe senior and Dean at the rear.

“As Dean walked past Mr Johnson he tapped him on the shoulder and told him to stop abusing his family.

“Clearly it appeared to anger Mr Johnson because he took hold of Dean Ratcliffe by the arms and was still shouting at him.

“Kevin Ratcliffe then turned, saw what was taking place and pushed Mr Johnson away from his son.

“Mr Johnson stumbled back, colliding with a balustrade which had timber spindles.
“Some of them were loosened by him falling and he took hold of one.

“Dean Ratcliffe describes how he continued to walk out and felt a couple of forceful blows from behind and was struck to the lower back, to the right of his spine and on the lower part of his right arm.

“At that point Kevin Ratcliffe intervened along with restaurant proprietor Mr Patterson to prevent further violence.”

He said Mr Johnson was on the floor waving the spindle about in a threatening manner.

Kevin Ratcliffe admitted he might have described Mr Johnson in an abusive way but denied that he swore.

He had simply acted to defend his son, who was being assaulted, he said.

Johnson, of Cottage Lane, Mancot, Deeside, denied assaulting Dean Ratcliffe on September 8.

He said he was with a family party sitting down to have a meal at the restaurant. He was going to the bar when he heard someone say: “We are not eating here.” That was because he was there.

He conceded he verbally responded but said Kevin Ratcliffe them “came at him” and pushed him over.

Mr Johnson said he struck his head as he fell and then Kevin Ratcliffe kicked him to his lower back and punched him.

While on the ground he took hold of one of the spindles and conceded he swung it around “in order to fend off Kevin Ratcliffe” and then Dean Ratcliffe joined his father in the attack, he said.

Mr Cross told the magistrates there were so many contradictions in the Ratcliffes’ evidence that they could not rely on it.

He said Johnson had been planning a quiet family evening out and ended up on his back on the floor being attacked by Kevin and Dean Ratcliffe.

It was a shocking incident and the defendant’s wife, Hilary Johnson, had feared for her husband’s life.

LAST week Mr Johnson's son, former member of boy band One True Voice, Matt Johnson – who was not present at the restaurant incident – agreed to be bound over to keep the peace for six months in the sum of £1,500, and in particular not to communicate in an abusive or threatening manner with Kevin Ratcliffe.

It was alleged that Johnson, 25, of Ebony Court, Ewloe, had telephoned Kevin Ratcliffe after the incident in the restaurant and threatened to have him shot - a claim he denied.

Magistrates heard the dispute centred on a 16ft high, 20ft long fence which had been erected by Kevin Ratcliffe between his and Johnson junior's property.

But the fence had since been removed and replaced with a 6ft fence approved by planning officials.