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A WORLD-leading martial arts expert told a jury that a headlock used by a bouncer on trial for manslaughter can render someone unconscious in less than 10 seconds.

Ciaran Spencer, 25, of Green Head Drive, Keighley, denies killing James Etherington following an altercation at Bijou nightclub in Bingley on November 25, 2017.

Spencer had been called along with two other bouncers to eject Mr Etherington for refusing to pay £4 for two shots.

Mike Finn, who qualified in Japan and has been training and teaching for more than 60 years, is recognised as an authority on martial arts in the UK and around the world.

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Mr Finn, who has 40 black belts in 10 martial arts, told the jury at Bradford Crown Court that the headlock Spencer used to restrain Mr Etherington is also known as a “guillotine choke or head chancery”.

He said: “It is general Home Office policy to avoid the neck.

“Without training it can easily lead to serious injury or death.

“It’s clear James was held in a headlock, and when released he falls straight backwards without taking any evasive action and hits his head.

“In that hold three things happen; pressure on the throat restricts air supply to the lungs, pressure on the carotid artery restricts blood to the brain, and pressure on the back of the neck affects the nerves, all of which can bring about unconsciousness in about eight to 12 seconds.


“You need a reasonable amount of force in that hold otherwise the person will escape, so you have to hold them quite strongly."

The jury had earlier been shown CCTV of Spencer and Mr Etherington outside the club.

“There is a slight lifting action of the neck by Spencer," Mr Finn told the court. "Direct pressure on the nerves in the neck will cause unconsciousness if you life the head up sharply and maintain pressure.

“Normally when someone falls they put their hands out to save themselves but James does not. There is no attempt to recover from the fall.”

Under cross-examination from Richard Wright QC, Mr Finn said bouncers have had only a day’s training in restraint techniques, and said more training is required to ensure security staff have the correct “mechanics” and perfect technique.

He also said he “could not say definitively” if Mr Etherington was unconscious when he fell. Mr Finn added: “Neck holds and strangles are never taught because of the inherent dangerousness of the hold.

“The head chancery would not be condoned by any agency or training provider, and certainly not the police. It is made clear a choke hold is not appropriate.”

Also giving expert evidence was Bill Fox, founder of Maybo, which provides security training programmes, a key message of which was said to be “leave the neck alone”.

He said: “There is a sudden death risk from forceful restraint, including asphyxia and devastating head injuries. We have a key message to leave the neck alone, and that headlocks should be avoided. We have a strong focus rightly in training about the risks of restraint to help people understand the importance of using the safest method possible.

“This was a very real scenario. It’s not uncommon for someone to die from the implications of this two or three times a year.”

Mr Wright asked Mr Fox if he had provided his training workbooks to Fida Hussain, who ran Armour Security and Training, with whom Spencer had qualified. Mr Fox said: “We have no record of Armour buying any books from my company, despite Fida Hussain going on one of our courses. When we wrote to him in September 2014, he said he had never delivered any training.”

Mr Wright said this was important as Spencer had been on his course prior to that date.

Earlier in the day, Bijou manager Matthew Brear said Spencer was “very professional” and “one of the best” bouncers he had seen, and Spencer had told him Mr Etherington had tripped.

Another witness, Lucy Brown, described a pool of blood round Mr Etherington’s head and blood coming from his ears as he lay unconscious on the floor.

The trial continues.