Imperial doormen trial: Saints' Sia Soliola testifies at Liverpool Crown Court (From St Helens Star)
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Imperial doormen trial: St Helens Sia Soliola testifies at Liverpool Crown Court
7:06pm Tuesday 19th March 2013 in News
SIA Soliola stood in the witness box at Liverpool Crown Court as he viewed for the first time CCTV of the violent scenes which he has no memory of.
The Kiwi international was softly spoken as he answered questions as a prosecution witness – before facing a rigorous cross examination from the defendants’ barristers.
Wearing a dark purple shirt, with his hair tied back, the Saints backrower and Kiwi international was at times asked to speak up by Judge Lewis so jurors on the other side of the court room could hear him.
Answering questions from Phil Astbury, prosecuting, Mr Soliola said he had little recollection of events leading up to the violence that unfolded in the early hours of Monday, March 12.
Nor could he recall the melee that resulted in him being knocked out – after being allegedly struck with a metal pole - and being left in his words "a bloodied mess".
Sat in the dock are defendants Christopher Rose, 33, of Hansby Drive, Speke, Lee Simpson, 24, of Newarth Drive, Lymm and Keiran Waters, 25, of St Chads Road, Chester – are charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm - in the dock as the prosecution delivered evidence.
They all deny the charge.
Giving evidence, Mr Soliola told the court he had been on a night out with his friend Ste Bacon, 46, visiting the Billinge Arms before moving on to meet friends at The Imperial in St Helens town centre.
Asked how much he had to drink, he responded: "I had 10 pints of Peroni (in Billinge) but I was still aware of what I was doing. Then (at the Imperial) three cocktails."
After 2am, Mr Soliola says he received a text message from Mr Bacon, which said he was outside the club and could not get back in.
Mr Soliola told the court: "I was getting pretty drunk but I was still okay I went downstairs to get Steve. I remember talking with the doormen."
Asked what his emotions were at that time, the 26-year-old said it was "a normal approach".
However, asked did he get angry with the door staff at some point, he replied "yes", adding that it happened when he was struck by the doorman.
Asked had he “used his fists” up until the point he was punched, he answered “no”.
Mr Soliola said he had no memory of the violence but added that viewing the footage had jogged his memory about coming downstairs to see the doormen claiming Mr Bacon had broken a glass panel inside.
At one point the footage shows Mr Soliola and Mr Bacon walking away from the club before the former turns on his heels and walks directly towards the entrance.
The rugby player said he cannot recall why this happened and, asked what his next recollection of the night was, he replied: “I was a bloodied mess. One of the other guys was holding my head up asking was I okay?
“Then I woke up in hospital.”
Cross examined by Gerald Baxter – representing Mr Rose – Mr Soliola agreed that he was “very drunk”.
At one point Mr Baxter said: “You come across now as very much as a sober, gentle giant but you were very different on that night...in the film?
To which the witness replied: “I was myself – when I approached the door it didn’t seem like I was aggressive.”
However, asked about his behaviour that night after watching the CCTV recording, Mr Soliola said: “It wasn’t the most professional.”
Mr Baxter added: “The problem was by that stage you were fighting drunk?”
“Yes”, answered Mr Soliola.
At that point Judge Lewis intervened and instructed the witness that he must not simply accept his questioner’s suggestions and should make it clear if he cannot remember.
Mr Soliola disputed suggestions that he showed aggression prior to the moment he was sent sprawling onto the pavement by an apparent punch.
But he admitted to being angry after taking the first blow, likening his behaviour to being “drunk and disorderly”.
Asked why he can be seen repeatedly “charging” towards the door, the witness replied that he “was trying to work out who had punched me”.
However, when Mr Baxter put it to him that by that stage he had lost control he answered: “yes”.
When Mr Baxter put it to him that because of his “size” he may have appeared to be the aggressor, Mr Soliola replied that he wasn’t, adding: “I was not the one holding the weapons”.
But he answered yes to a question which asked “you were pretty much out of control until you were knocked out”.
The case continues