A former Blade turned housing landlord whose tenants launched a hate campaign against him has been cleared of attacking a student in a row over cleaning.
Former Sheffield United footballer Paul Williams was accused by two tenants of becoming aggressive when he found his nine-bedroomed student house in Broomhall in a state two days before they were due to move out.
But at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court it emerged the two students – Robert Abbott and Luke Bamforth – were involved in setting up a Facebook ‘hate group’ against Mr Williams’ property company Home Accommodation two days before the alleged incident in June 2012.
Mr Williams, 50, of Whitham Road, Broomhill, wept as he was cleared of all charges brought against him by Sheffield Council under the Protection from Eviction Act.
Afterwards, he said: “As my wife and I have worked hard over the years to provide good quality accommodation to tens of thousands of students, it was particularly disappointing to have to face this prosecution after two students made a complaint to the council about me following an argument over the disgraceful condition of the property.”
District Judge Sam Goozee said Bamforth was accused by Mr Williams of swearing at his wife when she found the house in a mess.
But Judge Goozee said: “Mr Bamforth created a Facebook page called We Hate Home Accommodation, openly inviting comments, particularly about Paul and Clare Williams.
“It’s not the actions you would expect of someone who denied using threatening language towards Mrs Williams.”