A Leyton Orient footballer has been cleared of punching a cinema-goer after two juries failed to reach a verdict.

Defender Marvin Ekpiteta, 23, was said to have hit Stevens Durieux after Mr Durieux asked the centre back to stop talking during a screening of Avengers Infinity War at the Vue Cinema in Angel, north London.

The court heard Mr Durieux ended up with an injury to his eyelid and a dislocated shoulder after he asked the 6'4'' player and his girlfriend: "Are you going to talk during the whole film?"

The football star, of Stowe Place in Haringey, denied causing assault causing actual bodily harm. He was acquitted on Monday (June 24) after a jury at Blackfriars Crown Court failed to reach a verdict.

Once dubbed "the Van Dijk of non-league" Ekpiteta helped the 'Os' win promotion back into League Two as champions of the National League in April.

He signed to the League Two side in January last year and has been called up to play for the England under 23 squad twice.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

(Marvin Ekpiteta celebrating a goal in March 2019)

The prosecution chose not to pursue a third trial and offered no evidence but Judge Raj Shetty told Ekpiteta: "I was not there, but from my view this was a confrontation that did not need to happen.

"You put a very promising career at risk."

Archie Mackay, prosecuting, claimed Ekpiteta punched Mr Durieux in front of his mother when the two hour 40 minute movie finished.

But Ekpiteta denied punching the claimant and claimed he acted in self-defence.

He told the court that after the film had ended he and his girlfriend had felt threatened by Mr Durieux as they tried to leave.

Ekpiteta said: "He had said 'Watch, after the film,' to me. That only means one thing to me, that it was a threat or confrontation.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

(The trial took place at Blackfriars Crown Court in London)

"She asked if I could go out first. He was staring at me and I had to go past him in order to exit the cinema.

"I said, 'What do you mean watch after the film?' That's when he stood up. He was up to my chin.

"I grabbed him by the collar and he grabbed me."

Ekpiteta also denied he told Mr Durieux "What are you going to do big boy?" and that he was "from the hood".

"I don't talk like that," he said.

"We were tussling. He's holding my shirt. We were roughing each other up. I put him down in the seat."

He said Mr Durieux then launched himself out of the seat and into his waist, forcing him to grab hold of him again.

"He came from the side and comes into me. His arms are wrapped around my waist."

When challenged over Mr Durieux's eye injury, Ekpiteta replied: "I don't know, he could have hit his eye on the cupholder."

Leyton Orient captain, Joel 'Jobi' McAnuff, described Ekpiteta as a "quiet and humble guy, a very hard worker" with a "fantastic attitude."

His former coach, Michael Amoah, said he had never once been sent off during a football match.