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A REVELLER was put in a headlock rendering him unconscious before being dropped on a concrete pavement by a bouncer for not paying £4 for a drink, a court has heard.

The trial of Ciaran Spencer began in earnest yesterday at Bradford Crown Court, where he is charged with the manslaughter of James Etherington following a fracas at Bijou Cocktail Bar and Nightclub in Bingley on November 25, 2017.

Spencer, 25, of Green Head Drive, Keighley, denies unlawfully causing the death of Mr Etherington, 24.

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In his opening statement, prosecutor David Brooke QC outlined that Spencer had gone “way beyond reasonable force” in ejecting Etherington from the club, after he refused to pay £4 for two alcoholic shots.

He said Spencer then bragged to friends he had “choked someone out”, and training for door staff said to “leave the neck alone”.

The court heard Mr Etherington had been drinking in Saltaire with a friend before travelling to Leeds and continuing to drink with more friends and took what they thought was cocaine, although a toxicology report revealed otherwise.

They then got a taxi to Bingley, arriving at Bijou at 2.30am on Saturday, November 25. Mr Brooke said it was a “normal Friday night” at the club.

“In the next hour an incident happened in the club with James Etherington and the doormen took action to eject him,” said Mr Brooke.

“Ciaran Spencer was principal in removing him, and during that he was fatally injured.

“An inappropriate headlock or neck-hold rendered James unconscious or close to it in a matter of seconds, and then let go of him forcefully backwards.

“He then fell and hit his head on the floor, which caused a fractured skull and brain injury, and he died in hospital from the injuries 10 days later.

“There is no suggestion Spencer intended to kill or cause him serious harm, he was acting as a doorman to lawfully eject him.

“It is the manner in which he did it that was unlawful. He was perfectly within his right to eject him due to his actions, the problem was the way he did it.”

CCTV footage from inside and outside the club showed the series of events, from Mr Etherington and his friend, Dan Rose, arriving at the club, to the moment he was ejected and hit his head on the pavement.

In the footage, the pair enter the club and can be seen sitting at the bar. Around 40 minutes later, a member of the bar staff - Charlotte Waddington - was walking round the club with a tray of shots.

She approached the pair and Mr Etherington took two shots, but refused to pay the £4 price for the drinks, before getting up and dancing around Miss Waddington, and at one point seeming to put his arms around her.

She told her colleague, Charlotte Johnson, who also asked Mr Etherington to pay, but he again refused, leading to the door staff being summoned.

Ciaran Spencer, Adam Patel and Shamir Razak all approached him, pushing him back against the bar.

“There was a commotion,” said Mr Brooke “as they tried to eject him. Spencer had his hands on Mr Etherington’s shoulders, who tried to take his jacket off in an aggressive manner.

“All three had physical contact with him, and moved him out of the bar. Spencer was just doing his job, it’s something bouncers do up and down the country regularly.

“He was entitled to use some force, but it has to be reasonable and necessary to be lawful.”

Mr Brooke explained Spencer registered as a bouncer in 2014 and had received training and qualifications.

However, in the segment on restraining people, it said to “leave the neck alone”.

At the exit, Spencer could be seen with Mr Etherington in a headlock.

“He had his arm around his head and neck and was the only one in contact with him. Considerable pressure was needed to to maintain the hold securely.

“This hold can cause a loss of consciousness and can occur in a very short space of time.

“It’s obvious the grip was forceful enough to cause unconsciousness. He still had Mr Etherington in the hold outside the club, and it’s very stark when he released him he fell backwards straight away and his head hit the pavement. The force of that caused the fatal injury.

“Spencer said he had taken him outside and spoken to him but said Mr Etherington was being very aggressive. He admitted getting him in a headlock, but said he had tripped on a railing.”

The court was told Spencer texted a friend saying he had just “choked someone out”, but then texted again afterwards telling him to delete the message.

Mr Brooke said a pathologist found the story he had tripped an “unlikely explanation”, and in his opinion “the strongest possibility is he had been rendered unconscious by the headlock and sustained neck pressure”.

“He immediately falls to the ground with no attempt to break his fall; like a sack of potatoes.

“For a professional doorman to reduce a member of the public unconscious in such a short period of time shows he had gone way beyond what was reasonable.

“Asking to delete the texts speaks volumes; he knew his actions were wrong. This incident led directly to James Etherington’s death.”

The trial continues.