CHARITY champion Tony ‘The Fridge’ Morrison is to stand trial accused of assaulting four members of the same family and using violence to enter their home.
The South Tyneside-based fun-runner, famous for raising more than £100,000 by taking part in endurance runs and marathons with a 42kg refrigerator strapped to his back, is said to have seen his business fail and “lost almost everything” because of his charity endeavours.
The 50-year-old grandfather appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday, confirming his name, address and date of birth – and apologising for his late arrival.
Morrison, of Jutland Avenue, Hebburn, denies four charges of assault against Andrew, George, Jean and Lauren Mallaby in Sunderland on Monday, June 16, last year.
He has also pleaded not guilty to using violence for the purpose of securing entry into their home in Hylton Lane, Bunny Hill, knowing that there was someone present on those premises opposed to his entry.
Morrison’s motto is “be relentless”, and he has covered more than 1,000 miles with a fridge strapped to his back, raising more than £100,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Last year, he was named Fundraiser of the Year at the Pride of Britain Awards, and he was nominated as endurance fundraiser of the year at the JustGiving Awards for completing the London Marathon twice in 24 hours, a feat which raised more than £10,000 for Cancer Research UK.
He had been due to stand trial yesterday, but his solicitor, Chris Wilson, representing him for the first time, applied for more time.
Mr Wilson said “exceptional circumstances” meant the trial could not go ahead because Morrison had “buried his head in the sand”, and he had stopped communicating with his legal team.
He said: “Morrison, due to his charitable work, lost his business.
Mr Morrison, due to his charitable work, lost his business.Defence solicitor Chris Wilson
“As a consequence of these endeavours, the business has been lost and, as a consequence, he has lost almost everything.
“He has felt unable to cope and stopped opening his mail and stopped communicating.
“He has, on the face of it, disengaged from society, and he has failed to communicate with his solicitor.
“He is emotional and tearful and has struggled to cope with what has occurred.”
Morrison said “I wasn’t burying my head in the sand. It was confusion.”
He added that following the alleged incident, he had been arrested in the early hours of the morning and handcuffed.
The bench adjourned the trial until Wednesday, September 2, and warned him that the case may proceed in his absence should he not turn up.
Morrison was released on bail on the condition that he does not contact prosecution witnesses or go to the Mallabys’ home again.