Death-charge fan told police he hit drinker in self-defence

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A MAN accused of killing another with a punch outside a pub on the night of England's first World Cup game last summer told police he acted in self-defence.

Christopher Perry said in a prepared statement after his arrest last June that he struck Robert Wilson once after leaving the Skyrack pub in Headingley, Leeds, because "I feared he was going to assault me."

A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday he said Mr Wilson came towards him, moving like a boxer with his fists in the air. "I believe I acted in self-defence," he said.

Mr Wilson, 44, of West Park, in Leeds, struck his head as he went down and suffered a skull fracture and brain injury from which he died 11 days later on June 23.

Perry, 25, of Shadwell Walk, Moortown, Leeds, denies manslaughter.

The incident happened after Perry watched England's draw with the USA on screens at Headingley cricket ground before going to the Skyrack.

He told the jury he was in the queue to get in to the pub with his girlfriend Francesca Kelly, known as Frankie, and two friends, Simon Coen and Laura Lim, when another friend joined them and a man complained, saying he should be at the back of the queue.

His friend Simon had asked what the problem was, since they would all get in. "As far as I was concerned it was something and nothing," Perry told the court.

Later when they went out to the beer garden for a cigarette, the man appeared to be pointing out Simon to his party, which included Mr Wilson.

Perry said there came a time when he and his friends decided to leave but as they did, he heard the sound of drinks falling over in the beer garden and saw the man from the queue swinging a punch at Simon.

He stepped in between them to split them up but only to hear his girlfriend scream and, upon turning, saw she was falling backwards covered in beer.

He said he jumped back to help her. "I didn't want her to get hurt."

Perry told the jury: "It was absolute chaos, screaming and shouting, people tripping all over the place and I was scared for my girlfriend at that point."

He said he could not believe how quickly things blew up from everything being fine.

He remembered a doorman had hold of Mr Wilson who was "screaming and shouting obscenities, trying to get at me or Simon".

Perry said his girlfriend then began shouting at Mr Wilson about the beer, saying: "I can't believe you have just done that."

He took her by her shoulder and moved her away and saw Mr Wilson approaching.

The trial continues.