'Smug' doorman threw 24-year-old out of Bijou nightclub before fatal injury, trial told

The friend of a 24-year-old clubber who died after being seriously injured outside a Bingley nightspot has told a jury that the doorman involved looked “smug”.

James Etherington (top right) pictured with family
James Etherington (top right) pictured with family

But Ciaran Spencer’s barrister suggested that Ben Rose was being “selective” with his memory of the night and accused him of adding that detail to make it look worse for his client.

“No-one else remembers him smirking at you or smiling at you or looking smug,” said Richard Wright QC.

-> Doorman on trial over 24-year-old who died after hitting head being ejected from Bijou nightclub“You’ve just added that detail to make it look a little bit worse haven’t you?”

Bijou nightclub in Bingley

“That’s not true,” replied Mr Rose

“You’re trying to paint it in one way... and it wasn’t that way at all,” suggested Mr Wright.

“I’m just telling the truth,” said Mr Rose.

Spencer, 25, has denied manslaughter following the death of James Etherington who suffered a severe brain injury when he struck the back of his head on the ground outside the Bijou nightclub.

Mr Etherington, who had been on a night out in Leeds before travelling by taxi back to Bingley in the early hours of November 25, 2017, suffered a fractured skull in the incident.

Despite medical attention his condition deteriorated and he died in hospital about ten days later.

Prosecutor David Brooke QC asked Mr Rose if he had seen Spencer again outside the club after Mr Etherington was injured and if he got any sense of his attitude.

“Very smug,” said Mr Rose.

“He was quite happy that he had put my friend in that position. That’s how I felt.

“He was just smiling really and looking down at me while I was helping my friend.”

The jury at Bradford Crown Court has heard that Mr Etherington was ejected from the premises after he drank two shots from a tray but then refused to pay £4 to a member of staff for them.

Spencer, of Green Head Drive, Utley, Keighley, was told about the problem and he and two other doormen approached Mr Etherington in the club.

Mr Brooke alleged that Spencer used an inappropriate headlock or neck hold to force Mr Etherington backwards out of the club and he was rendered “unconscious or near to it” by the force of the hold before the defendant let go of him at the entrance.

CCTV footage captured Mr Etherington immediately falling backwards onto the pavement and Mr Brooke alleged that Spencer, a licensed doorman, had used either unlawful force or had been grossly negligent.

“There is no suggestion that the defendant acted in a way intending to kill James Etherington or to cause him really harm,” said Mr Brooke in his opening to the jury earlier this week.

“He was acting as a doorman to lawfully eject him. But what we do say is that he did it in such a way that was unlawful and led directly to his death.

“The prosecution’s case is that his death was the result of the defendant’s unlawful actions that night.”

The jury has already heard evidence from martial arts expert Mike Finn that the headlock allegedly used by Spencer could have rendered someone unconscious in between eight and twelve seconds.

Mr Finn, who has been training and teaching for more than 60 years, said the hold was also known as “a guillotine choke or head chancery”.

He told the jury that neck-holds and strangles were never taught because of the inherent dangerousness of the hold.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.