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Norwich clubber tells of death fall

PUBLISHED: 05:44 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:13 02 July 2010

David Bale

A clubber told a court the sound of a man's head hitting the ground was like a "bowling ball" hitting the floor. Doorman Steven Hopkins, 28, is accused of unlawfully killing Phillip Ward outside a Norwich nightclub on May 30 last year.

A clubber told a court the sound of a man's head hitting the ground was like a “bowling ball” hitting the floor.

Doorman Steven Hopkins, 28, is accused of unlawfully killing Phillip Ward outside a Norwich nightclub on May 30 last year.

Prosecutor Christopher Morgan told Norwich Crown Court yesterday that clubber Jasmine Emma Blake said in a police statement she had stepped outside Chicago Rock Café in Prince of Wales Road to have a cigarette and was on the pavement.

In her statement she said: “I saw a white male come flying backwards out of the nightclub. His head hit the ground and it sounded like a bowling ball hitting the floor.”

The court was told that Hopkins pushed Mr Ward, 46, as he was leaving the nightclub, 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.

The court heard the incident lasted no more than two or three minutes but the end result was the death of Mr Ward, from Drayton, near Norwich.

Hopkins, of Woodward Road, Norwich, has denied the manslaughter of Mr Ward, and claims he acted in self-defence after he said Mr Ward lunged at him as he led him out of the nightclub.

The court heard earlier from Mandy Harrison, a friend of Mr Ward's, who said she was waiting with him to leave the nightclub when the doorman approached them.

She said: “The doorman swore at Phil and told him to keep the door he had opened, closed. Phil let the door close, and then the doorman asked him, again swearing, whether he had a problem with that (closing the doors). The doorman repeated that two or three times.

“I tried to calm the situation and just said that Phil was waiting for his wife, Mandy, who was somewhere inside the club.

“The doorman was being unnecessarily abusive. When I turned around again Hopkins was squaring up to Phil.

“He grabbed hold of Phil with his hands on Phil's front - the upper part of his chest - and shoved him backward through the door.

“I asked him what he was doing and said there was no need for that. My partner, Glen Lambert then said to the doorman 'I think you are in trouble, boy', or words to that effect.”

In cross-examination, Michael Clare asked Ms Harrison why she had not mentioned in her police statement that Hopkins had sworn at Mr Ward. Mr Clare suggested to her that she had been exaggerating, but she said she hadn't.

The court also heard that Hopkins told the nightclub's head doorman Andrew Chilvers that Mr Ward had “reared up” at him.

James Gibson, who was the nightclub's general manager, said Hopkins had told him immediately afterwards that Mr Ward was being hostile.

Mr Gibson said: “Steve said when the man was asked to leave, he said 'You'll have to make me, because I'm waiting for my wife'. Steve then said he had to remove him from the premises.”

The trial continues.

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