A CHARITY champion will stand trial later this year accused of assaulting four members of the same family and using violence to enter their Sunderland home.
Tony ‘The Fridge’ Morrison, who raised more than £100,000 taking part in endurance runs and marathons with a 42kg refrigerator strapped to his back, is said to have lost his business and “nearly everything” and “disengaged from society” due to his charity endeavours.
The 50-year-old grandad, who appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday under the name Anthony Phoenix-Morrison, confirmed his address and date of birth, and apologised for his late arrival.
Morrison, of Jutland Avenue, Hebburn denied four counts of assault in Sunderland on June 16 at an earlier hearing.
He has also pleaded not guilty to using violence for the purpose of securing entry into their home, knowing that there was someone present on those premises who was opposed to the said entry.
Morrison, whose motto is “Be Relentless” has covered more than 1,000 miles with the Smeg 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 in 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 solicitor Chris Wilson, who represented him for the first time, applied to vacate the trial so that he could obtain proper legal representation.
Mr Wilson argued that “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.
“Mr Morrison, due to his charitable work, lost his business,” Mr Wilson said. “As a consequence of the endeavours of the defendant the business has been lost and, as a consequence, he has lost almost everything.
Mr Morrison, due to his charitable work, lost his business.Defence solicitor Chris Wilson
“He has felt unable to cope, really, and he stopped opening his mail and stopped communicating. He has, on the face of it, disengaged with society and he has failed to communicate with his solicitor. He is emotional and tearful and has struggled to cope with what has occurred.”
But Morrison said: “I wasn’t burying my head in the sand on this issue, it was confusion.”
The bench vacated the trial until 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 home of his alleged victims.