Ashley Finlay was dying in my arms after just one kick
A SKATEBOARDER lay dying in his girlfriend's arms moments after being kicked in the neck on a night out, a court heard.
Thomas Cullen is accused of booting Ashley Finlay "like a footballer volleying a football" outside The Old Bell Hotel, in Derby.
He denies murdering the 24-year-old in an attack after the pair argued in the pub.
As his trial began at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday, Mr Finlay's girlfriend, Mairin Byrne, sobbed as she told the jury that she had seen Cullen's leg move to kick her boyfriend and heard the impact.
She said: "I remember shouting 'you kicked him', and then ran over to Ashley. Then I just sat there with him, holding his head. He was breathing a little bit and he was unconscious."
Prosecutor Stephen Lowne said there was no dispute that Cullen, 29, had attacked Mr Finlay and that the incident was captured on CCTV cameras. He described Mr Finlay as "a lightly built young man" and Cullen as "a heavy individual", weighing about 20 stone.
He said the prosecution's case was that Cullen had "intended to cause serious bodily harm" to Mr Finlay, of Ingle Close, Spondon.
Mr Lowne said: "The defendant walked up to the scene and grabbed the shoulder area of Mr Finlay from behind and threw him to the ground quite hard.
"Two doormen said he hit the floor on his back, having been thrown like a piece of paper.
"What happened then is a kick went in, possibly before he hit the floor or seconds after."
The court heard that one witness told the police that Cullen, of Taylor Street, Derby, had kicked Mr Finlay "like a footballer volleying a football".
Mr Lowne said the kick to his neck made the victim's head turn, which caused the fatal injury of bleeding into his brain.
An expert said Mr Finlay's death could have been almost instantaneous and that the type of injury he received was rare.
And a pathologist said that sort of injury was caused by an impact to the upper neck or face that would have produced "a significant twisting motion causing rupture to blood vessels".
Mr Lowne told the court: "Witnesses noticed that while he was breathing it soon became shallow and his lips started to turn blue.
"The defendant was seen to walk calmly off, having delivered the kick.
"The deceased was taken to hospital but it was all too late."
The court was told that Cullen had attacked Mr Finlay after the two men had argued inside the pub. Mr Finlay had "deliberately" knocked over a pint, some of which went over the defendant.
The landlord, Paul Keanan, had then escorted Mr Finlay out of the pub.
Mr Lowne told the jury that Mr Finlay, a keen skateboarder, was upset because he had left his skateboard in the pub and "as a result put his fist or something through the window of The Bell and shouted".
He said the landlord was outside with Mr Finlay and was pushing him away from the pub. Some of his friends were trying to calm him down.
Cullen was still inside the premises at that time and witnesses told police that he had "looked very angry and seemed determined to get outside".
One man said he had tried to stop him leaving the pub but he eventually managed to get out and headed towards Mr Keanan and Mr Finlay.
Miss Byrne told the court she did not recall Mr Finlay, her boyfriend of two years, being in a bad or aggressive mood that night.
The incident took place in the early hours of April 9.
She said she had gone to meet Mr Finlay at about 7pm at Bass's Rec skate park, after which they had bought a couple of cans of alcohol, which they drank, before heading to the Old Bell for a Reggae night.
Mr Finlay, who had been DJing that night, drank another pint in the pub.
The trial continues.