Page last updated at 18:40 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Man 'killed after Rooney chant'

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney plays for Manchester United and England

A late night reveller killed a stranger for saying he looked like soccer star Wayne Rooney, a court has heard.

Anthony Corsi, 24, was on a night out when a group of men began chanting "Rooney, Rooney" at him at a taxi rank in Cardiff city centre.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that Mr Corsi swung a punch at Christopher Jones, 21, of Marshfield, who died a week later from a head injury.

Mr Corsi, of Cardiff, denies manslaughter. The trial continues.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the incident in St Mary Street which happened at 0500 on 21 October, 2007 as Mr Corsi was on his way home after a night out in Cardiff.

The court heard Mr Jones was hit and suffered bleeding to the brain.

He was expected to make a full recovery but collapsed and died a week later in hospital.

Roger Thomas QC, prosecuting, told the jury: "It doesn't matter whether you think Corsi looks like Mr Rooney or not - it was a drunken joke.

Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones died a week after the alleged attack

"Corsi should have gone home but he was angry and annoyed and looking for trouble.

"It was wholly unnecessary.

"We are not saying it was murder but Corsi did start unlawful violence."

Mr Jones's friend John Squires, 21, told the jury the group had been drinking beer, shorts and alcopops that night.

He said they were waiting for a taxi when the defendant hopped into a cab before them.

Mr Jones said another man in the group, Christopher Aberg, began shouting "Rooney, Rooney" and the rest joined in.

He said: "We were shouting general obscenities. Then Corsi got out of the taxi and said 'who's the loudmouth?'

"He was aggressive and it looked like he was looking for a fight. He said he would take all three of us.

"Chris Jones walked towards us from the opposite site of the street and Corsi turned around and hit him."

Mr Squires said his friend staggered away then collapsed about 30 seconds after being hit.

British Gas adviser Mr Aberg admitted he began the "Rooney, Rooney" football-style chants.

He told the court: "I called him Rooney as a joke because I thought he looked like him and I could see he was annoyed by the reaction on his face, he said "do I look ginger?" then got in the taxi as we were shouting "Rooney, Rooney."

'Provoked'

"The gentleman came back, moved towards Chris and hit him."

John Charles Rees QC, defending, told Mr Aberg: "You might call him gentleman now but you weren't treating him as such that night.

"He was a total stranger but was goaded, wound up and provoked.

"I don't want to insult Wayne Rooney but his looks have become a bit of a figure of fun and you knew my client would take offence."

Mr Corsi admitted he "over-reacted" when he was taunted about looking like Wayne Rooney after climbing into a taxi at the end of a night out.

The court heard he told police: "I was upset about what they called me and I stopped the car and got out.

"I was angry, nervous, upset and drunk. Maybe it was the way he approached, I just remember him coming towards me and I hit him.

"I suppose I felt threatened and over-reacted."

The case continues.

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