Doorman on trial over 24-year-old who died after hitting head being ejected from Bijou nightclub

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

A doorman has gone on trial over the death of a 24-year-old nightclubber who died in hospital after hitting his head on the pavement as he was being ejected from a West Yorkshire venue.

Ciaran 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 in Bingley.

Bijou nightclub in Bingley, Bradford

Bijou nightclub in Bingley, Bradford

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.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court was today (Tues) shown various CCTV clips which captured the events that night and prosecutor David Brooke QC revealed 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.

The 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.

“The charge is not one of murder but of manslaughter,” he told the jury.

“There is no suggestion that the defendant acted in a way intending to kill James Etherington or to cause him really harm.

“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.”

Spencer later said he had been that Mr Etherington was being aggressive and not paying for drinks in the club.

He alleged that Mr Etherington became aggressive and took his coat off so he tried to restrain him.

Spencer admitted getting him in “a bit of a headlock” but denied holding him round the neck.

He told police he had just “let him go” and didn’t know if Mr Etherington had tripped over something.

But Mr Brooke referred to a message allegedly sent by Spencer to a friend around the time of the incident in which he said:”I’ve just choked somebody out.”

Spencer is then said to have told his friend to delete the message which he did not realising the seriousness of the situation.

Mr Brooke said the text and the instruction to delete it spoke volumes adding:”It is clear the defendant knew perfectly well that his actions in ejecting Mr Etherington in that way were wrong.”

Mr Brooke alleged that before the hold was released Mr Etherington did not appear to be struggling on the CCTV and he then fell to the ground making no attempt to break his fall.

He said a pathologist had indicated that the strongest possibility was that Mr Etherington was rendered unconscious or near to it by the application of the headlock.

The trial is expected to last about three weeks.