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Stephen Tompkinson trial: Actor denies punching drunk man

Stephen Tompkinson trial: Actor denies punching drunk man

Actor Stephen Tompkinson has told his trial punching a drunk man outside his home would have been "career suicide".

The 57-year-old also said he would have broken his fingers if he had struck Karl Poole, in Whitley Bay, in May 2021, because he had been holding his phone at the time.

Mr Tompkinson, of Whitley Bay, denies causing grievous bodily harm.

He told Newcastle Crown Court Mr Poole and his friend had been the "definition of drunk and disorderly".

Mr Poole sustained a double skull fracture when he fell and hit his head during the altercation outside Mr Tompkinson's home at about 05:30 BST.

The DCI Banks and Ballykissangel star insists he did not punch Mr Poole but pushed him away in self-defence.

Giving evidence, the actor said he called the police after seeing Mr Poole and Andrew Hall drunk in the street.

He described the men as repeatedly falling over and drinking from a bottle of Jägermeister - which he took from them as he was concerned they would drop it.

"They were making a lot of noise and they could barely stand. I thought it was in their best interests as well to get them assisted home at least," the defendant said.

Stephen Tompkinson found fame in the TV shows Ballykissangel and Drop the Dead Donkey


He said a neighbour's previous evidence that he raised a fist, and then thought better of it, was him showing the men his phone to prove he had called the police.

In response to the gesture, Mr Hall, swearing, told the Drop The Dead Donkey star he could call who he liked, adding: "I'm a social worker", the jury heard.

Mr Tompkinson said he was so "dazzled" by the response that he repeated the words "I'm a social worker" because "it hardly seemed like conduct becoming of one".

Mr Poole then turned and said, also swearing, that he did not care who Mr Tompkinson was.

The "whole atmosphere changed very quickly", going from "jovial to frightening", with both men getting unsteadily to their feet and approaching him, the actor said.

He put his right hand out to make a "stop" motion, his flat palm connected with Mr Poole's face and he fell to the ground because of his "unsteadiness", he added.

"I didn't want to hurt him, I wanted to stop him, change his mind," Mr Tompkinson said.

"It wasn't enough to knock a sober man off his feet."

The actor said he always wanted to treat members of his potential audience "with respect"


The actor said he was holding his phone so could not have thrown a punch without hurting himself "or risking some solid metal going into Karl's face".

The court heard Mr Poole did not have visible facial injuries.

Asked if he had punched or assaulted Mr Poole, the actor said no.

He told the court he was "not responsible" for the brain injuries Mr Poole sustained.

When asked if he accepted some accountability, Mr Tompkinson agreed.

His barrister, Nicholas Lumley KC, said: "Standing there now, how do you feel about that head injury?"

Mr Tompkinson replied: "That's the reason we are all here. It's a terrible thing to have happened to anyone."


'Just not him'


After Ballykissangel reached 15 million viewers his father reminded him he had been "invited into people's living rooms now, and you must always treat them with respect", the actor told the jury.

"And I always try to," he said.

"It would be career suicide to do something as outrageous as assault someone."

He had not worked since he had been charged, he added.

Comedian and writer Andy Hamilton and actors Nichola McAuliffe and Dean Bone appeared in court as character witnesses for the defence.

Mr Hamilton worked with the actor on Drop The Dead Donkey but had "never seen him lose his temper", the jury was told.

"I can't remember ever hearing him raise his voice. I have never seen him get abusive or aggressive with anyone. That's just not him."

The court was also read a character statement from Hayley Mills, his co-star in the vet drama Wild At Heart, who said the animals all "responded to the calm way he dealt with them".

The trial continues.

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