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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 22:23 GMT
Bellamy 'slapped' during club row
Craig Bellamy and Franklin Lynch leaving court on Friday
Craig Bellamy and Franklin Lynch both deny assault
Wales and Liverpool footballer Craig Bellamy has told a court he was slapped in the face during a nightclub argument with a 19-year-old woman.

The player is accused of assaulting Sophie Palmer and her friend Holly Smith, 20, in February.

But Mr Bellamy told Cardiff Magistrates Court he was struck after an exchange of words with Ms Palmer in a corridor at the city's No 10 nightclub.

The Cardiff-born 27-year-old denies two counts of common assault.

The player is accused of grabbing Ms Palmer by the throat and grabbing Ms Smith's arm and pushing her into a wall.

His friend and sometime minder, Franklyn Lynch, 52, of Barry, is charged with assaulting Ms Palmer - a charge he denies.

No 10 nightclub
The alleged assault happened at the No 10 nightclub in Cardiff

The court was told that Mr Bellamy began a night out on 4 February at the nearby Soda Bar before going to No 10's VIP bar

The court heard that between 0100 GMT and 0130 GMT, the footballer caught the eye of Ms Palmer, who was walking towards him in a corridor between the VIP bar and VIP lounge.

Mr Bellamy's barrister, John Charles Rees QC, asked his client whether anything was said.

Mr Bellamy replied: "She just asked me what I was looking at."

When asked what he said in reply, Mr Bellamy said: "Not you. If I was looking at anyone it would be those two girls over there - they're far prettier than you."

I knew it would leak out and be in the papers, that's why I tried to shy out of it and went towards the bar
Craig Bellamy

Mr Bellamy told the court there were not really two girls behind Ms Palmer at the time.

The footballer said there could have been some swear words exchanged between the pair.

Mr Bellamy told the court she then slapped him in the face which "shocked" him.

When asked what Mr Lynch did, the footballer said: "He came from the right-hand side of me, got hold of her straight away and led her off.

"I knew one or two persons had seen it and I didn't want it to look like it was me.

"I knew it would leak out and be in the papers, that's why I tried to shy out of it and went towards the bar.

"I saw she was trying to get out and trying to struggle, that's the last thing I saw before they turned the corner."

Holly Smith, who gave evidence at Cardiff magistrates court
Holly Smith was in the nightclub with friend Sophie Palmer

Asked if at any stage he grabbed Ms Palmer by the throat as she claims, he said: "Not at all, no."

The court heard that when he was later approached by police outside the club "it created a little bit of a scene".

He said he got into a police van and people were trying to take his photograph which upset him.

Mr Rees asked if he had accused the officer inside the van of being jealous of his fame.

Mr Bellamy replied: "There's no way I would have said that to him."

The footballer said it took time to give his contact details to the police because he had only recently bought a new house in the Vale of Glamorgan and could not remember his address or telephone numbers.

When asked what he did, Mr Lynch said after Ms Palmer hit the footballer, he "went around him quickly and grabbed her and her arm and got him between the two of them and asked her what she thought she was doing".

'Slapped'

He said: "She was screaming, shouting and swearing and said 'I work here'."

He then said he ushered her away from Mr Bellamy and denied placing her in a bear hug.

The court heard Mr Bellamy had also arranged to meet former Wales rugby international Neil Jenkins.

Mr Jenkins told the court said he had seen the footballer with a couple of women.

He said he saw them arguing and then "for some apparent reason, I don't know why, a girl slapped Craig across the face."

He said the woman was ushered away from the area and he paid no more attention to the incident.

The trial continues.


SEE ALSO
Bellamy 'accused Pc of jealousy'
27 Nov 06 |  South East Wales
Cardiff help out striker Bellamy
24 Nov 06 |  Liverpool
Witness tells of Bellamy's 'grab'
24 Nov 06 |  South East Wales
Bellamy 'grabbed woman's throat'
23 Nov 06 |  South East Wales



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