A neighbour of British actor Stephen Tompkinson has told a jury she witnessed him slapping and punching a drunk man in the head during an incident outside his home.
Caroline Davidson gave evidence on the second day of the 57-year-old’s trial at Newcastle Crown Court, where he is accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Karl Poole in the early hours of 30 May 2021.
Tompkinson, known for starring in TV shows including DCI Banks, Ballykissangel and Drop The Dead Donkey, denies the charge.
On the opening day of the trial, jurors were told Mr Poole suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of the incident.
He and a friend, Andrew Hall, had been drinking since about midnight and were walking past Tompkinson’s home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, as they returned to Mr Hall’s house from the beach, the court heard.
Tompkinson went outside at about 5.30am to confront the two men for making noise outside his home, and initially called the police asking for them to be moved on, the court was told by prosecutor Michael Bunch.
On Thursday, the court heard from Mrs Davidson – jurors were told she knew Tompkinson lived at the house across the road but had not spoken to him since he moved in two or three years previously.
Giving her account of what happened, she told jurors she was woken by “hysterical laughter” and looked out of her bedroom window to see two men lying on the floor outside.
They both appeared “very drunk” and were “wobbling” from side to side, she said, and Mr Poole was only wearing boxer shorts.
Mrs Davidson told the court she went back to bed but got up again when she heard a voice with a “different tone”.
She could see Tompkinson “using hand movements to ask [the two men] to move away” and at one point “pulled his fist back”, the court heard. However, he put it down “more or less straight away” before walking back towards his house while apparently making a phone call, she said.
The two men then got up with some difficulty, put their arms around each other and “started to try and walk off”, Mrs Davidson said, before her neighbour returned.
“The two males started to turn,” she said. “You could see maybe something was being said. The next thing I knew, the neighbour had stepped forward and he had slapped one of the gentlemen, the one without the top on, with his right hand and then punched him on the head with his left hand.”
‘He didn’t move’
Asked by the prosecutor if anything had “precipitated that action”, Mrs Davidson replied: “No.”
She said she was “100% sure” Tompkinson had moved towards the two men.
Mr Poole “stumbled backwards and fell”, she said. “He just went straight back and his head hit the ground. He just, he didn’t move. He didn’t even put his hands out to stop himself, he just hit the ground.”
Tompkinson came out of his house when the police arrived and spoke to two officers, Mrs Davidson said, and then placed a bottle of Jagermeister at Mr Poole’s feet.
Jurors have previously heard Tompkinson told police he had taken a bottle from the two men.
When asked if either of the two men made any aggressive actions towards the actor at any point, Mrs Davidson responded: “No.”
Second witness gives evidence
Mr Hall also appeared in the witness box on Thursday, telling the court he heard a “cracking” sound when Mr Poole’s head hit the floor.
Asked what Tompkinson did as Mr Poole lay on the ground, Mr Hall replied: “I think he had his phone out but it was clear he wasn’t ringing for help.
“Later on, I don’t know the timescale, he showed a bit of humanity and a bit of remorse in my view, it must have sunk in what happened, but it didn’t initially. I believe he was on his haunches with his hands on his head.”
Jurors have heard Tompkinson told police he pushed Mr Poole away in self-defence.
He denies the charge and the trial continues.