Darius Henderson trial: 'Self-defence punch' claimed

Darius Henderson Darius Henderson was angry after the woman's approach, the court heard

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A Championship footballer told a court he punched a man in a Hertfordshire restaurant because he feared he was going to be attacked.

Darius Henderson, 31, of Markyate, Hertfordshire, is accused of assaulting fellow diner John Bell, 41.

Mr Bell was hit when he tried to intervene in an argument between Mr Henderson's girlfriend and another woman, St Albans Crown Court heard.

The Nottingham Forest player denies grievous bodily harm.

Mr Henderson was in Darcy's in St Albans on 31 December 2011 with his girlfriend Lucy Caplan when they were approached by Hazel Kent, 48, who claimed she had had sex with Mr Henderson, the jury was told.

'No truth'

Ms Caplan became upset and stormed out of the restaurant.

It is claimed Mr Bell tried to speak to Mr Henderson and calm the situation down, but instead was attacked.

Mr Bell suffered a fractured left cheekbone and a cut to his left eye socket and had to undergo surgery after the alleged incident.

Asked by his barrister, Mr Sean Minihan, whether there was any truth in the claim that he had had sex with Ms Kent, Mr Henderson said: "There was no truth in it at all."

He said Ms Caplan was unhappy because he failed to "react" to Ms Kent's claim.

"What made Lucy more upset was the fact that I wasn't really reacting because I knew it was really rubbish," Mr Henderson said.

Darcy restaurant The alleged offence happened inside Darcy's restaurant in St Albans, the court was told

The footballer said he then complained to bar staff about Ms Kent.

He said Mr Bell then confronted him about the way he had spoken about her.

"He was just telling me that if I didn't apologise he was going to bottle me," Mr Henderson said.

He claimed he tried to guide Mr Bell away from the bar area where there were bottles and glasses, but when Mr Bell moved towards him again, he hit him.

When his barrister asked Mr Henderson why he "struck" Mr Bell, he said: "Because I honestly felt I was going to be attacked."

Mr Henderson, who was playing for Championship side Millwall at the time, signed for Nottingham Forest on a free transfer in January.

The trial continues.

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