Harry Redknapp has criticised the Crown Prosecution Service for putting him through a 'horrendous' and 'farcical' tax evasion trial that left his wife "slaughtered" with worry.
In an emotionally-charged press conference on Friday, Tottenham manager Redknapp fought back tears as he described how he was left bemused at the decision to bring the case to trial and feared his life would be "finished" if he had been found guilty and jailed.
The 64-year-old also revealed how Sandra, his wife of 44 years, has fallen ill because of the case, and how he had banned her from visiting the court because he claims "it would have killed her".
Redknapp and co-defendant Milan Mandaric were both unanimously cleared of two charges of cheating the public revenue on Wednesday after a draining 13-day trial at Southwark Crown Court.
The 12 jurors accepted Redknapp's denials that he avoided tax on any payments on £189,000 found in a Monaco account named after his dog, Rosie.
The Crown alleged Mandaric gave Redknapp the money as a bonus from their time at Portsmouth together, where the former was chairman and the latter manager.
However the jury found the pair not guilty after five-and-a-half hours of deliberation, in a case which has cost the CPS an estimated £8million.
Redknapp on Friday lifted the lid for the first time in detail about his ordeal in court.
The main gripe Redknapp, the overwhelming favourite to be the next England manager, has with the CPS is how they brought the case to court over allegedly not declaring tax on such a small amount of money for two extremely wealthy men.
"It was farcical," Redknapp said "It was only [taken to court], as my barrister (John Kelsey-Fry QC) kept saying, because it was me.
"I was supposed to be saving the chairman a few quid on income tax and he is a man who had paid £100million in income tax, who at one time employed 40,000 people.
"Milan has billion-dollar companies.
"I went out to play out in America in the 1970s and he was the biggest name in football over there.
"He set up the San Jose Earthquakes, signed Eusebio and he was businessman of the year there.
"Now, suddenly he's sitting there at 74 years of age, accused of nicking £30,000 of income tax. It's unreal, isn't it?
"He's paid millions in tax, employed all these people, kept football clubs going, paid everybody's tax, and suddenly he's accused of this.
"Four times, we tried to get it thrown out. My barrister was saying, 'this should not be going to court', but they (the Crown) wanted to go with it.
"They thought they had nothing to lose. It's not their money...that was the attitude they had."
Redknapp has gone through many emotions during his 29-year management career, but nothing could have prepared him for the experience of being in the dock for 13 days.
The Londoner's trial became heated at times, particularly when he was being cross-examined by Crown prosecutor John Black QC, who accused Redknapp of telling a "pack of lies" during his testimony.
"It was a horrendous period... the most draining thing I have been through in my life," said Redknapp, who went on to thank his son Jamie for being with him throughout the trial in the public gallery.
"Jamie really carried me through it. He was there for me 24 hours a day.
"It was tough. I was being questioned by a man who is probably 100 times better educated than I am. He has probably gone to Eton or somewhere and I'm standing up there uneducated really and I have to try to stand my corner. It is very difficult."
No moment was tougher than the final morning of the trial when the pair returned to court to hear the verdict of the 12 jurors.
"I remember getting called in," said Redknapp. "I was sitting on my own beforehand and I was thinking things that were scary."
When asked whether he was thinking about the possibility of being jailed, Redknapp replied: "Yeah, definitely."
He added: "Milan had been very strong all the way through and he suddenly said to me, 'What do you think?'
"You don't know what to think. You have 12 people that are going to decide [whether] to finish your life, basically. It is not a feeling that you would wish on anybody."
While his son was there throughout the trial, one person who was absent was Redknapp's wife, Sandra, who he had banned from attending.
"I wouldn't let her come to court, she couldn't have handled it. It would have killed her, without a doubt," Redknapp said.
That did not prevent Sandra, who was alone while Redknapp stayed in London throughout the trial, from being affected by the trial, according to the Spurs manager.
"It made her ill," Redknapp said. "It slaughtered her. It knocked her for six.
"Her back's gone. That's the stress of it all. She couldn't move this morning because that's what happens. Your body gets wrecked.
"It has been difficult, especially for her. She's soft. She's not a tough lady at all."
The CPS on Friday night defended their decision to charge Redknapp and Mandaric.
A spokesperson said: "We concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution was in the public interest."
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