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Imperial doormen trial: Bouncer claims 'enormous and growling' Sia Soliola charged at him
11:47am Friday 22nd March 2013 in News
A DOORMAN has told a court he and two colleagues were charged at by a "growling" Sia Soliola as violence erupted at a nightclub entrance.
Christopher Rose, 33, is one of three bouncers from the Imperial Bar accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm on the Saints player.
The doormen, who have pleaded not guilty, claim they acted in self defence and, after taking the stand at Liverpool Crown Court, Rose told jurors he was "frightened" when confronted by the "enormous" Mr Soliola.
CCTV from the nightclub shows Mr Soliola, 26, and his friend Stephen Bacon, 46, in an argument with three doormen near the entrance.
At one point the recording shows the two men appearing to walk away from the scene.
But Mr Soliola suddenly turns on his heels and marches towards the door, appearing to point his finger.
Speaking of that moment, questioned by his defence barrister Gerald Baxter, Mr Rose denied the suggestion of a prosecution witness who said Mr Soliola had turned around after the doorman shouted “f*** off you f***y”.
The defendant said Mr Soliola was simply told to go home, adding: "It (then) seemed as though his whole body language had changed...he came to the door with his fists clenched - it seemed a lot more aggressive."
Mr Rose, who says he did not know Mr Soliola was a rugby league player, added: "As soon as he turned around it crossed my mind that I didn't want to tangle with him.
"He was enormous - huge."
The defendant, a landscape gardener has worked on the doors part-time for more than a decade, suggested Mr Soliola walked to the entrance with his hands raised, resulting in the Saints player being punched and sprawling on to the pavement.
The father-of-one, from Hansby Drive, Speke, added: "He quickly got back to his feet - he made these noises, growls, it was quite frightening and then he charged at three of us at the doorway.
"He bent down like in a rugby scrum and was straight at us."
The bouncer said he was rugby tackled to the ground and that Mr Soliola appeared "adamant he was going to get us and would keep coming back".
He admitted arming himself with the VIP rope, used at the doorway, because he thought it was a way of fighting the rugby player off.
But prosecutor Phil Astbury, cross examining, put it to the defendant that the events unfolded differently.
He asked: “Someone, insulted Mr Soliola. That is the only explanation (for why he turned on his heels)?
Mr Rose replied: “No”
To which Mr Astbury responded: “Mr Knowles (a witness) says someone said words to the affect of: “You f***y, is that all you got? “ Mr Rose responded: “That was not said.”
Playing footage, recorded in the nightclub foyer, in slow motion at court, Mr Astbury focussed on a melee involving Mr Soliola, Mr Rose and the two co-defendants Keiran Waters and Lee Simpson.
The prosecutor said: “Let's watch it again and see how many times you kicked Mr Soliola. One, two, three, four, five, six maybe - and then another - bang! At least six possibly seven?
Mr Rose replied: "They are supposed kicks, when I said two I meant kicks that would have connected."
Mr Astbury then asked: “You are doing your best to kick him hard?”
Mr Rose said he was restraining him, answering: “I'm doing enough to keep him on the floor.”
Mr Astbury added: "There is no justification for those repeated kicks for a man on the floor who is being held by two door staff."
The defendant again refuted that.
He also rebutted prosecution suggestions that he “lost his temper and the red mist descended” – and denied hitting Mr Soliola with the rope.
Mr Astbury: "You were the aggressor who started it and allowed it to get out on control."
Mr Rose replied: "No, not at all."
The case continues