Former Wigan Warrior Anthony Gelling tells jury he acted in self defence when punching his ex-wife

Rugby league star and one-time Wigan Warriors player Anthony Gelling, accused of punching his then-wife in the face, has told a jury that he had only done so in self-defence.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 2:57 pm
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:06 pm

The 30-year-old athlete explained that otherwise he feared he would be run over by the car she was reversing.

Liverpool Crown Court has heard that the punch he threw as she sat behind the steering wheel broke bones in her nose and eye socket as well as causing a black eye and a cut over her right eyebrow.

Gelling, a New Zealander, who at the time played for Warrington Wolves, is on trial denying a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm.

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Anthony Gelling. Image: Dave Howarth
Anthony Gelling. Image: Dave Howarth

His victim Toni Mackey gave evidence via video link from New Zealand where she has returned to live along with her 10-year-old daughter and their two-year-old daughter.

She claims that he had taken his “angry pills” - magnesium and zinc tablets - the night before as he had a game later that day and punched her after she refused to let him get their baby’s pram out of the boot of their Hyundai 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Kevin Slack, prosecuting, has claimed: “It was an act of aggression from a man who had lost his cool because his wife was not doing as he wanted. The prosecution say you can be sure he was not acting in self defence when he punched Miss Mackey.”

Six foot four inch tall Gelling, who now plays for Leigh Centurions, told the jury that he first came to the UK in 2011 as he got a contract with Wigan Warriors and played for them for six years.

He moved back to New Zealand in 2017 to be closer to Toni, whom he had met four years earlier, and they returned to England in April 2019 as he had signed for the Widnes team.

Gelling said they had good and bad times and she sometimes had low moods, particularly around the time of the incident and they went to the doctors after she spoke about seeing aliens.

He claimed that at one point she was taking zoplicone and morphine, which she had been given after a serious car crash in 2018.

Asked by his lawyer Martine Snowdon, whether he had ever been violent with her he said that on one occasion he had to pin her on the stairs to take a handful of the pills from her which she had threatened to swallow.

He said he regularly took the magnesium and zinc tablets which after making him feel weird he called his angry pills. But asked if they actually made him angry he replied ‘no”.

He said he has plates inserted in his hands because of a birth defect and injury and he started taking the tablets to help with cramp during training and joint pains.

On the day of the assault incident on February 6, 2020 he walked the eldest child to school. “She (Toni) wasn’t happy with me, I think because I didn’t want to go and eat breakfast with her.”

Later when Toni said she was going out to get lunch as he had eaten already he asked when she was coming back but she replied, “It’s none of your f…ing business.”

He wanted to get the pram out of the boot of the car to collect her daughter from school, he explained.

He went out to get it while she was upstairs but she came out to the car and went past him and got in. He said he wanted to get the pram in case she was not back in time.

“She was already angry. She said “yes, like I’m going to forget to get my f….ing daughter.” When he said, “just in case” she replied, “Yes because a f… useless mum can’t do it herself.”

Gelling, of Cronton Lane Mews, Widnes, said she started to reverse slowly.

He said: “I took a couple of steps back and when she kept reversing I moved to the side by the garage. I tapped on the rear window and told her to stop.”

He said there was a button inside the vehicle which opens the boot and he opened the driver’s door to push it.

Asked about that decision by Kevin Slack, prosecuting, he admitted: “It was a stupid decision. I should just have stayed out of the way.”

He said the car door touched the garage door and as he opened it she was still reversing and sped up. “The car lurched backwards and got my right leg knocking me off balance. I hopped onto my left leg and put my foot out and yelled, ‘Stop.’

“I just panicked, there was a lot of adrenaline. I punched her. I just wanted to stop the car. I thought I was going to be run over.”

Asked by Miss Snowdon if he wanted to hurt her he said, “Not at all. I wasn’t angry at the time. I was angry after the incident and angry at myself.”

He said he offered to get her an ambulance or take her to the doctors but she did not want to go. “When I saw her face I was shocked. I said, ‘I’m sorry’.”

The court heard that she later got a taxi to hospital after he returned from a rugby match against St Helens and her injuries were discovered.

The case continues.

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