DCI Banks star Stephen Tompkinson says it would be 'career suicide' to assault drunk man as he denies charges

9 May 2023, 14:50 | Updated: 9 May 2023, 14:52

Stephen Tompkinson denies grievous bodily harm
Stephen Tompkinson denies grievous bodily harm. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The star of DCI Banks has said "it would be career suicide to do something as outrageous" as punch someone as he gave evidence in his assault trial for the first time.

Prosecutors claim that Stephen Tompkinson, 57, punched a drunken man unconscious and left him with traumatic brain injuries.

Mr Tompkinson spoke at his trial at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday, as the actor faces accusations of causing grievous bodily harm to Karl Poole on May 30, 2021 at his seaside home in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.

He denies the charges, and said that his career had been put on hold because of his legal issues.

Jurors earlier heard Mr Poole and his friend Andrew Hall had been drinking since about midnight on the night and went to the beach to watch the sunrise. As they made the journey back home, however, they walked past the star’s house.

Stephen Tompkinson
Stephen Tompkinson. Picture: Alamy

Mr Tompkinson said that Mr Poole walking by his house "was a very frightening situation", adding that he felt "threatened and shaken" by the behaviour of two strangers at 5.30am.

He said that his acting experience had taught him not to hit anyone with force, claiming that he only made contact with Mr Poole with his palm.

He said: "I didn't want to hurt him, I wanted to stop him".

Mr Tompkinson added: "My right arm came over my shoulder and it contacted the left hand side of Karl's face with an open palm," he continued. 

Stephen Tompkinson arrives at Newcastle Crown Court
Stephen Tompkinson arrives at Newcastle Crown Court. Picture: Alamy

"I didn't apply any excessive force that would have caused any sober person to fall over."

Mr Tompkinson denied any responsibility for Mr Poole's double skull fracture, claiming that the injured man fell in a "completely different direction".

He added that he had simply wanted to change Mr Poole's mind "about coming towards me and further into my property".

He said that he later went back to check on Karl's wellbeing.

Mr Tompkinson added: "I could see he hadn't moved. On getting closer to him it was very clear he was snoring, very, very loudly."

Jurors heard he had woken up early that morning, heard "strange noises" and saw two "heavily intoxicated" men drinking at the bottom of his driveway, one of whom (Mr Poole) was just wearing underpants.

Mr Tompkinson said he watched the pair attempt to stand up and fall several times, while drinking from a bottle of Jagermeister.

"I was very worried (the bottle) would break, that particular area of the driveway was where the seven-year-old liked to practise on the skateboard.

"I thought the best way out of this scenario for everyone was to call the police. They looked like they needed assistance to get home.

"It seemed to me they were the very definition of drunk and disorderly - they were making a lot of noise and they could barely stand up."

Mr Tompkinson told the court he called 999 and was waiting to be connected to the police when he went outside and told the men: "Come on lads, look at the state of you, look at the time, there's people asleep in the house, you can't be doing this."

Asked if he was angry, Mr Tompkinson said: "I think there was a bit of angriness in there, it was a horrible sight and I certainly didn't want the rest of the household to be greeted by them when they woke up.

"These weren't boys, they were encroaching on middle aged men who shouldn't get into a state where they can't stand."

Mr Tompkinson said he told the men he had called the police, and one of them replied: "Call who you f***ing like, I'm a social worker."

He told jurors: "I was absolutely dazzled by that. I repeated verbatim 'I'm a social worker' because it hardly seemed like conduct becoming of one.

"That seemed to resonate with Karl, who span. His eyes suddenly came into focus, very directly into my eyes. He said: 'I don't give a f*** who you are.'

"It was like, from the moment they started swearing and the moment I could see Karl's eyes coming into focus, the whole atmosphere changed very quickly.

"I wasn't expecting any trouble and then when it suddenly did turn, or their attitudes changed, then it was a very frightening situation."

Mr Tompkinson said the men got to their feet, unsteadily, and started to move towards him.

He told the court he put his hands on Mr Hall and "guided" him to the ground, then saw Mr Poole coming towards him.

"I didn't want to hurt him, I wanted to stop him to change his mind about coming towards me and further onto my property."

Mr Tompkinson said as he went to make a 'stop' motion, his hand connected with the left side of Mr Poole's face and that he went to the floor because of his "unsteadiness".

The court was told Mr Tompkinson still had his phone in his hand after calling 999.

Asked if it would have been possible for him to have made a fist, he said: "Not without breaking my fingers or risking some solid metal going into Karl's face."

Asked in cross-examination why he did not tell police at the scene about the confrontation, Mr Tompkinson said: "I've been involved in enough police procedurals to know there are initial interviews, then there are another set of interviews. I was waiting to get the chance to fully explain."

It comes after Mr Poole's friend Andrew Hall, who was also at the scene, told court earlier in the trial that he heard the “hitting of flesh” and a “cracking” sound as his friend was knocked to the ground in the alleged assault.

He said at first he heard “shouting and a commotion” from afar and then spotted his friend talking to Mr Tompkinson on the actor's driveway.

Stephen Tompkinson arrives at Newcastle Crown Court accused of inflicting GBH

Mr Hall said he calmed the situation down between the two, and they started walking away from the star, who was wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown at the time.

He said Mr Poole ended up lying unconscious on the ground with “traumatic head injuries”.

After Mr Tompkinson allegedly punched the man, Mr Hall said the actor displayed “a bit of humanity and remorse”, as he fell “on his haunches with his hands on his head”.

Read more: Boy, 7, bitten on head by dog as police move to track down pair who left beer garden without leaving details

The DCI Banks has denied the accusations made against him.
The DCI Banks has denied the accusations made against him. Picture: Alamy

Prosecutor Michael Bunch said Mr Tompkinson called the police at 5:30am the day the incident occurred and reported two drunken men outside his home.

Read more: 'Our hearts are completely broken': Family of woman, 31, stabbed to death 'by stranger' call killing 'senseless'

One of Tompkinson’s neighbours, Caroline Davidson, told the court earlier that she also witnessed the incident.

She said she was initially woken by “hysterical laughter” and saw two “very drunk” men lying on the floor outside.

The court heard from Mr Poole's friend Andrew Hall in Newcastle Crown Court today.
The court heard from Mr Poole's friend Andrew Hall in Newcastle Crown Court today. Picture: Alamy

She went back to bed after this but got up again when she heard a voice with a “different tone”.

She watched the DCI star and the two drunken men speak to each other and said Mr Poole and Mr Hall “started to try and walk off”.

Ms Davidson added: “The two males started to turn. 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."

According to Ms Davidson, nothing “precipitated that action” and she was “100% sure” that it was the actor who had moved towards the drunken men.

When asked if the drunken pair had behaved aggressively towards Mr Tompkinson at all, she replied “no”.

The trial continues.

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