Thursday, November 23, 2006

Bellamy in court for alleged assault

Liverpool star Craig Bellamy grabbed a young woman by the throat after they bumped into each other at a nightclub, a court heard on Thursday.The Wales and Liverpool striker is alleged to have assaulted 19-year-old Sophie Palmer and 20-year-old Holly Smith during a night out in Cardiff city centre during the early hours of February 5 this year.

Prosecutor Mike Hammett told Cardiff Magistrates Court the alleged altercation happened as Bellamy was walking in a corridor at the No 10 nightclub at about 2am.

Mr Hammett said Bellamy collided with Miss Palmer as she walked in the opposite direction, and "words were exchanged".

Bellamy is said to have then grabbed Miss Palmer's friend, Holly Smith, by the wrist and swore at her.

The court heard that moments later he followed the pair after they had walked away and grabbed Miss Palmer by the throat.

Bellamy's friend and sometime minder, Franklin Lynch, was also accused of assaulting Miss Palmer, and is alleged to have grabbed her in a bear hug when she tried to get assistance from door staff.

After the two women made an official complaint to police, Bellamy told officers during an interview the incident started when he caught the eye of one of the complainants, in the nightclub.

When she asked him what he was looking at, Bellamy said he replied: "If I was looking at anyone it would be those two behind you because they are far prettier."

Bellamy said the girl then slapped him and he made a counter complaint to police.
Mr Hammett said Miss Palmer suffered bruising to her neck and a reopening of scarring on her breast following the alleged incident.

He also said Miss Smith had bruising to her wrist.

Bellamy, 27, of Menai Way, Rumney, Cardiff, denies both counts of common assault. Lynch, 52, of Glan-Y-Mor, Barry, South Wales also denies one count of assault.

Giving evidence, Sophie Palmer, now aged 20, said she was walking along a narrow corridor to the champagne VIP bar followed by two friends when she first saw Bellamy.

She said: "I began to walk through the gap and Craig Bellamy was walking in the other direction and he bumped into me. He was quite aggressive, he was just swaggering around.

"I turned around and said to him 'excuse me, why couldn't you wait in that gap there'.

"He said to me 'you're too f***ing fat to get past me you fat slag'.

"He was very aggressive and very arrogant."

Asked by Mr Hammett how she responded, Miss Palmer said: "I shrugged it off, said 'whatever' and kept walking in the direction I was going."

She said she then turned around to see her friend Holly Smith "having words" with Bellamy.
"I can't remember if he pushed her or she pushed him first, but they both pushed each other."
Miss Palmer said Bellamy then followed her along the corridor and grabbed her.

"He grabbed me with both hands around the neck and held me up against the wall and he was squeezing."


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