Crystal Palace captain Jason Puncheon’s self-defence claim rejected by judge
The footballer is due to be sentenced later.
A judge has rejected a claim from the Crystal Palace football captain that he acted in self-defence when he lashed out at a group with his belt outside a nightclub.
Jason Puncheon was seen to twice strike out with his belt in an early-morning melee, before telling a bouncer who tried to return it to him that he should keep it and buy a house with it, a court heard.
The 31-year-old was “irate” after the December 17 incident and challenged police to arrest him, Staines Magistrates’ Court heard.
He had been out for dinner with his wife and another couple before all four went to Mishiko nightclub in Reigate.
The evening had been pleasant up until the point another man interrupted himself and his wife dancing, Puncheon told the court.
He said the man, unknown to him, had put his arm around him and when asked not to do so began insulting him.
Speaking from the witness stand Puncheon said the male told him: “You’re f****** shit. That’s why Roy (Hodgson) doesn’t play you.”
He added: “He also said to me that that would be a good story for The Sun.”
After leaving the nightclub and going to their chauffeur-driven car Puncheon, who the court heard was wearing a three-quarter length herringbone jacket, said another woman attempted to strike his wife as he ushered her into the vehicle.
He stated that his friend Ben Chorley, who the court heard had given police the name Steven Cotter, was punched by someone else during the incident in Church Street.
Asked by his lawyer how he felt, Puncheon said: “Really concerned for my safety to be honest because of the build-up of everything that had happened. The moment that somebody leaned over to hit my wife and hit my friend I think it spiralled out of control.”
Prosecutor Craig Warsama told the court that after the incident outside the club Puncheon was “irate”.
“He was shouting ‘Arrest me, arrest me’ in what was described as an aggressive tone,” Mr Warsama said.
When a bouncer who had confiscated the belt then tried to return it to Puncheon, the prosecutor said: “Mr Puncheon’s reply was ‘Keep it, keep it. Buy it. Buy a house with it’.”
He made no comment to police when he was interviewed, the court heard.
Mr Puncheon was acting in self-defence, his lawyer Sallie Bennett-Jenkins QC said, but this argument was dismissed by District Judge Michael Snow.
He said: “It’s quite clear to me that he had completely lost control of his behaviour at that time. And he was striking indiscriminately at that group.”
The judge added: “The CCTV is clear and unarguable. No one viewing that CCTV I’m afraid could come to a different conclusion.
“He was not acting in self-defence or in the defence of another (when he used the belt).”
Puncheon, of The Warren in Kingswood, Surrey, wore a black suit, black shirt and black trainers as he stood in the dock to enter his guilty plea on Monday.
He had been due to face trial but changed his plea at the last minute.
Puncheon admitted a section 4 public order offence of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or provoke unlawful violence.
A further charge of assault by beating was dropped after no evidence was offered by the prosecution.
The court heard Puncheon has a previous conviction for assaulting a police officer in 2004, for which he received a 12-month conditional discharge, and driving offences including no insurance and no licence four years later.
He is due to be sentenced on Monday afternoon.