A MAN has gone on trial for his alleged part in an attack which left a Wigan rugby league star with a career-wrecking injury.
Sean Gleeson was left partially blind after the violent incident and he had to undergo surgery for his facial injuries, a Liverpool Crown Court jury heard.
In the dock is 22-year-old Lee Jones, of Alder Avenue, Ashton-in-Makerfield, who denies affray.
A Liverpool Crown Court jury has heard that another man involved that night, Terrance Riley, 25, of Harrison Drive, Haydock, has already pleaded guilty to the same offence.
Mr Gleeson, a former Wigan Warriors player, had only played six games for his new side Hull Kingston Rovers when the incident occurred in the early hours of March 1 last year.
David Watson, prosecuting, told the court that the victim had gone into his home town of Wigan with friends for the evening and they ended up in the Ibiza Bar in King Street.
Following an incident between him and some of Mr Jones’s group he left the club and was seen on CCTV footage outside about 4am in “animated” conversation with security staff.
Jones, Riley and their group of friends came out and there was an exchange of abuse between Mr Gleeson and the group.
Mr Gleeson walked up to the bottom of the entrance steps and Riley was seen to attack him. “It may have involved others but not the defendant,” said Mr Watson.
“The incident spills out on the street and as a result of the indecent Mr Gleeson ends up on the floor. It is clear that the defendant is quite close to the incident but does not seem to be directly involved.
“The CCTV shows Mr Gleeson picking himself up and is seen to be walking towards Mr Riley. The Crown say as he walks past the defendant Mr Jones strikes him to the face from the right hand side.
“It was the sort of blow Mr Gleeson told police is a ‘side winder’ and one he did not see until it was too late and it had knocked him to the floor, such was the force,” claimed Mr Watson.
Still images were circulated in the press after the incident and Jones voluntarily surrendered to Wigan police station on March 3 and he was arrested and interviewed.
He said he had drunk seven or eight pints and alleged in the club Mr Gleeson had been violent towards Riley and picked up a bottle. He said that about 15 minutes later while outside the club Mr Gleeson swung a blow at Riley and Riley punched him and they ended up on the floor.
“He said once Sean Gleeson got up he began to walk towards him. He said he was scared and punched him fearing he was going to be assaulted, saying he was acting in reasonable self-defence.”
Mr Watson told the jury, “That may be the issue in this case.”
Giving his evidence to the court Mr Gleeson said that while in the club he remembered a push on his chest which rattled him. He saw a bouncer approaching and he decided to leave and went outside.
While waiting for his friends he remembered exchanging abusive words with some lads and was called “an effing ginger”.
Mr Gleeson said that while he was using his phone “I felt someone stun me and I went straight back. Someone had hit me in the face. I got up as quickly as I could.
“All I remember after that is just a full-on rattle from the side, a haymaker on the right side by my eye. Then I just remember waking up in hospital.”
He told how he is now partly blind in his right eye and had to have that side of his face re-constructed with plates and a mesh inserted beneath his eye socket.
Further questioned by Mr Watson he said: “It has ended my career” and explained that if he received further blows to that area “it could kill me.”
Brian McKenna, defending, suggested that his account of events that night “is nonsense. You are telling lies.”
Mr Gleeson denied that, “I am telling the truth.”
“You were the trouble maker that night,” suggested Mr McKenna.
“No,” replied Mr Gleeson.