Court hears former Warriors player “collapsed like a sack of spuds” after punch

Danny Tickle (right) in action
Danny Tickle (right) in action

A former Wigan Warriors player “collapsed like a sack of spuds” after he was struck in the face outside a nightclub, a court heard.

Danny Tickle, who was then playing for Widnes Vikings, was punched in the face by his friend Stuart Johnson and suffered a traumatic brain injury and a fractured skull.

Henry Riding, prosecuting, alleges that it was “a completely unprovoked attack” by Johnson but the defendant claims he was acting in self-defence.

Johnson, 29, of Grimshaw Court, Golborne, who plays amateur rugby league for the Golborne Parkside team, is on trial after pleading not guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Liverpool Crown Court has heard that the incident took place outside the Queen’s nightclub in Ashton in the early hours of November 1, 2015.

Because of his injuries the victim has no recollection of the incident and was not called to give evidence. Mr Riding said that his injuries were treated conservatively and he made “a reasonably good recovery”.

CCTV footage showing inside the club and outside was played to the jury and Mr Riding said it showed the attack was unprovoked.

Both men had been asked to leave the club by staff and Johnson, who left first, walked to the edge of the pavement and then turned to face the doorway and was gesturing towards the door, he claimed.

Mr Tickle, who now plays for Leigh Centurions came out and walked towards him and although he was obviously drunk was “not all aggressive,” alleged Mr Riding.

At one point he put his arm around Johnson’s shoulders “in what may have been a friendly hug” to placate him after an earlier argument in the toilets.

“The defendant was having none of it and pushed the complainant away violently.”

Others at the scene tried to keep them apart and Mr Tickle appeared to get “fed up” and walked off, possibly waving his hand.

Mr Riding said that Johnson walked towards him and Mr Tickle walked back and they were arguing.

“Out of the blue this defendant lamps the complainant, decks him, strikes him with a haymaker to the side of his face when the complainant wasn’t even looking towards him.

“Danny Tickle collapsed like a sack of spuds.”

Mr Riding said there “could be no suggestion that the complainant was about to hit him. The defendant follows through with another attempt to strike him to the face,” he alleged. Johnson told the court that he acted in self-defence. He claimed that earlier inside the toilets Mr Tickle, who is about 6ft 4in and weighed about 17 stone, had “swung” at him but missed.

Outside the premises he said that Mr Tickle was being aggressive and had not been hugging him but had been trying to get him in a headlock.

“I thought he was going to strike me. He lifted his arm and I struck him.”

The case continues