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Tuesday 28 March 2017

'Elvis' headbutt costs Irish soccer star Stokes €230,000 in damages

Stokes headbutted Mr Bradley at Buck Whaleys nightclub in 2013, the court heard
Stokes headbutted Mr Bradley at Buck Whaleys nightclub in 2013, the court heard

Ireland soccer star Anthony Stokes must pay €230,000 in damages to an Elvis Presley impersonator he headbutted and seriously injured in a Dublin nightclub.

At the High Court yesterday, a jury, after deliberating for just over 90 minutes, unanimously found that the 28-year-old Blackburn Rovers player had assaulted Anthony Bradley (53).

The jury found that Mr Bradley was entitled to general damages, aggravated damages and damages to cover the cost of medical expenses already paid.

Stokes must also pay Mr Bradley's legal costs.

Mr Bradley sued Stokes after he was headbutted by him in the VIP lounge at Buck Whaleys nightclub in Leeson Street in the early hours of June 8, 2013.

Cowardly

Stokes, who has won nine caps for Ireland and played for clubs including Celtic, Hibernian and Sunderland before joining Blackburn last summer, was not present in court nor was he legally represented.

He had lodged a defence denying Mr Bradley's claims. However, before the trial started, Mr Justice Colm Mac Eochaidh heard that Stokes had discharged his legal team earlier this month and was aware the case was listed for hearing.

Counsel for Mr Bradley, John O'Donnell, appearing with Conor Bowman, said the footballer had informed his solicitor that he would not be attending because his partner was due to give birth.

Opening the case, Mr O'Donnell said the "unprovoked attack" on his client by Stokes was "nasty and cowardly".

As a result, Mr Bradley had suffered both physical and psychological injuries and was "not the man he had been before the incident".

In his evidence, Mr Bradley, from Ballyfermot in Dublin, said he was at the club when someone spilled drink on him.

While he was dealing with this person and telling him "it was OK", Stokes appeared and headbutted him. He said he "did not know" if the other person and Stokes knew each other.

Bouncers removed Stokes, but Mr Bradley said he required medical attention and there was "a lot of blood".

He said he suffered injuries including a broken nose, damage to his teeth and later developed problems with his neck.

It was accepted in court that he had a pre-existing undiagnosed condition that caused the issue with his neck, but Mr Bradley said the assault exasperated it.

He has had surgery and dental procedures at home and overseas, and has been receiving treatment for his neck pain.

He will require further medical and dental treatment in the future.

Sleepless

While his teeth and nose could be fixed, he said it was the problems with his neck that "worries me most".

Mr Bradley had performed as an Elvis impersonator for many years, but since the assault he was unable to do so.

He had also given up his job at the Gresham Hotel on O'Connell Street. He agreed with counsel that he also suffered from psychological problems and sleepless nights.

Mr Bradley said Stokes never apologised to him. He said he had been approached at his home by the player's mother and was contacted twice by his sister before the criminal trial.

He said he explained to them that the matter was "out of his hands" as it was the State that was bringing the criminal prosecution against Stokes.

Following the jury's decision, the judge said Mr Bradley was entitled to his legal costs.

While he said he took a "dim view" of Stokes' non-attendance he declined to award costs against the footballer on a solicitor-client basis, the highest level possible.

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