A semi-professional footballer with Chichester City, who landed a punch outside a nightclub, told a jury yesterday (Wednesday): “I was protecting myself. It was self-defence.”
Josh Clack, 24, a winger with the Southern Combination Premier Division club punched 20-year-old Kieran Smithers unconscious outside Guildford’s Casino club.
“I might have been hurt myself. I did not think I had any other options,” Clack told Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court.
Clack, of Oakwood Close, Midhurst, West Sussex has pleaded not guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm in the early hours of October 18, 2015.
The court has been told that he had already consumed a beer, two vodkas and two other drinks during a night out with a group of pals, who got involved with lone passer-by Mr. Smithers at 3.40am.
Mr. Smithers was backed-up by two concerned off-duty soldiers and the incident escalated.
“There was a slight argument with three random people I’d never seen and some of my friends,” said Clack.
“I saw Kieran swing out and punch my friend Tyler straight in the face. I wanted to break-up the situation, I didn’t want to see my friend in a fight.
“I got in the middle of them to break it up, but it didn’t really help and that’s when Kieran started running towards me.
“He seemed pretty drunk and started throwing punches at me that I managed to avoid as I moved backwards away from him.”
Clack told the jury the soldiers were behaving a threatening manner and continued: “They were aggressive, asking why we were picking on Kieran.”
He denied saying: “I’m going to smash him,” and told the jury he walked away from the confrontation.
However, he said: “I saw Kieran approach me, follow me and he seemed very aggressive and intoxicated and I tried telling him I didn’t want to fight.
“He pushed me in the chest with both hands and I punched him as soon as he put his hands on me.
“I was trying to protect myself and just did what I thought was necessary at the time.
“It was a split-second decision in an instant.”
Mr. Smithers suffered fractures to his nose and eye socket as well as bleeding to the brain and spent nine to ten days in hospital.
Clack fractured his hand and it was still in a cast when he was questioned by police after he received treatment at Chichester’s St. Richard’s Hospital.
He told police later: “I said I punched a wall. I did not want to look bad. I know a lot of people in Chichester, I play football for Chichester.”
Clack told police he was 2/10 drunk and the punch was a 5/10 in force.
He added: “I tapped him on the face and asked him if he was okay and he said: ‘Yeah.’ I just used reasonable force to get out of the situation, I wouldn’t say it was that hard.
“I did not intend to hurt anybody. I’m not an aggressive person.”