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Doorman: I was acting in self-defence

PUBLISHED: 06:34 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:16 02 July 2010

Steven Hopkins.

Steven Hopkins.

Christine Cunningham

A doorman accused of unlawfully killing a man when he ejected him from a Norwich nightclub told a jury he was acting in self-defence when he had pushed him away and had not intended for him to fall backwards onto the pavement.

A doorman accused of unlawfully killing a man when he ejected him from a Norwich nightclub told a jury he was acting in self-defence when he had pushed him away and had not intended for him to fall backwards onto the pavement.

Doorman Steven Hopkins, 28, pushed Mr Ward, 46, as he was leaving the Chicago Rock Café in Prince of Wales Road, after a night out with his wife and friends.

Mr Ward fell backwards and hit his head, suffering a fatal head injury from which he never regained consciousness.

Norwich Crown Court heard the incident lasted no more than two or three minutes but the result was the death of Mr Ward, from Drayton.

Hopkins, of Woodward Road, Norwich, denies the manslaughter of Mr Ward.

Giving evidence yesterday, Hopkins, who was the assistant head doorman, said he asked Mr Ward, who was waiting for his wife, to close a inner door. Itt was company policy that the door remained closed because of noise.

He said that at first Mr Ward seemed to ignore or not hear his request so he went over to him to tell him again to shut the door.

Hopkins said: “He closed the door and as he was closing the door he muttered something,”

He assumed Mr Ward had not understood why the door had to be closed, so he followed him through to explain why and to try to diffuse the situation.

Hopkins said that Mr Ward swore at him and said that he had been waiting for his wife. “I explained there was no need for him acting like that and we could continue the conversation outside if needed.”

He said it was in-house policy that to prevent any escalation of trouble, people would be brought to the foyer area away from other clubbers, to talk matters through.

However he claimed Mr Ward had pushed him and swore at him again and said: “I decided he was a threat to myself. I decided he needed to leave the venue.”

He said that he could not remember how he held Mr Ward but thought he had hold of his left arm and was pushing his back.

Hopkins said Mr Ward had been compliant but suddenly shoved back towards him as they reached the foyer.

He knew Mr Ward was with family and friends and was concerned the situation would escalate so he pushed Mr Ward away: “I wanted to clear my space. It all happened so quickly. I feared for my own safety.”

Hopkins said that after pushing him away he remembers seeing Mr Ward go out of the door backwards.

Asked by his barrister Michael Clare if he had intended Mr Ward to fall over, Hopkins replied: “No, I did not.”

Hopkins, who had been a doorman for 10 years and who also worked as a security officer at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital at the time of the incident, told the couirt that he has since given up doing any kind of security work.

The trial continues.

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