RL star poleaxed by blow from a friend

Danny Tickle

Danny Tickle

A professional rugby league player was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured skull after being felled by a friend outside a nightclub.

Danny Tickle’s injuries mean he has no recollection of the incident in Ashton but graphic CCTV footage has been played to a jury.

Stuart Johnson

Stuart Johnson

In the dock at Liverpool Crown Court is 28-year-old Stuart Johnson who denies inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Tickle, who was then playing for Widnes Vikings.

“It was completely and utterly unprovoked. The defendant simply decks him with a right hook to the left hand side of Mr Tickle’s face that completely fells him, poleaxes him,” alleged Henry Riding, prosecuting.

The jury heard that Johnson, an amateur RL player, claims he acted in self-defence believing Mr Tickle was going to hit him.

But Mr Riding claimed: “Of immense significance is what happens as he is falling to the ground - he (Johnson) followed through with yet another blow, attempting to strike him even as he fell.”

He grabbed me to get me in a headlock. He was dragging me towards him and I pushed him away. I was telling him to pack it in with my arms raised

Stuart Johnson

The incident happened in the early hours of November 1 last year outside the Queen’s nightclub in Ashton where both men had gone separately.

Both were later asked to leave by doormen with Johnson going outside first and standing on the pavement and gestured back towards the door.

Mr Tickle, who has previously played for Hull, Halifax and Wigan and is now at Leigh Centurions, came out and walked towards him and although drunk was not aggressive and appeared to try to put his arm around Johnson’s shoulder, claimed Mr Riding.

He then had his arms outstretched to the side and then again tried to put his arm around his shoulder. Johnson pushed him violently away and others become involved. “It was handbags at six paces and nothing more,” he alleged.

Mr Riding said that the victim had made a reasonable recovery from his injuries but cannot remember the incident. Johnson, of Grimshaw Court, Golborne, told the court that he plays for Golborne Parkside amateur rugby league team and knew Mr Tickle and regarded him as a friend.

He said he saw Mr Tickle that night in another bar and saw he was drunk and rowdy. “He is generally a nice lad,” he said.

They did not speak at the bar and Johnson went to the Queen’s about 4am where Mr Tickle also went. He later went to the toilet and Mr Tickle, who played for the super league, was there belittling a friend of Johnson’s who plays for an amateur team, he alleged.

He claimed that Mr Tickle grabbed his friend around the head and he asked him why he was acting like that.

He said that bouncers then restrained Mr Tickle and he walked past Mr Tickle, swore at him and left the club. Outside he waited for his two friends and Mr Tickle came out gesturing at him.

“He grabbed me to get me in a headlock. He was dragging me towards him and I pushed him away. I was telling him to pack it in with my arms raised.”

Johnson claimed that Mr Tickle indicated for him to go with him down the side of the night club but he refused to go. “There is only one reason to ask someone down the side of the nightclub and that is he wants a fight.”

Johnson said that Mr Tickle, who he estimated weighs 18-19 stone, came towards him with his arms raised. “I thought he was going to hit me.”

He denied trying to hit him again and said he had just lost his balance after the first blow.

The jury was expected to retire today.