Actor Stephen Tompkinson has told a court it would be “career suicide” for him to “do something as outrageous as assault someone”.
The 57-year-old DCI Banks star is accused of punching a man to the ground who was drunkenly making noise outside his home in the early hours of May 30 2021.
Newcastle Crown Court has heard Tompkinson came out of his house at around 5.30am, wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown, to challenge Mr Poole and his friend Andrew Hall, who were both “heavily intoxicated”.
On Tuesday Tompkinson told the court he did not punch Mr Poole and was “not responsible” for the double skull fracture he sustained when his head hit the pavement.
He said he put his hand out to stop Mr Poole coming towards him and made contact with his face but that it “wasn’t enough to knock a sober man off his feet”.
Jurors were told Tompkinson had gone to drama school in 1984 and his acting career included sitcom Drop the Dead Donkey and the series Ballykissangel.
“I’m not trying to compare my situation with the injury Karl suffered – they don’t compare,” he told the court.
Asked by his barrister Nicholas Lumley KC if he had anything to gain by assaulting Mr Poole, Tompkinson said: “Absolutely not. Any member of the public is potentially a member of your audience and you have to treat them with respect at all times.
“After we got 15 million viewers for Ballykissangel my father, who was alive at the time, said: ‘You have been invited into people’s living rooms and you must always treat them with respect’, and I always try to.
“It would be career suicide to do something as outrageous as assault someone.”
Tompkinson said at the time of the alleged assault he was living in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, with his partner and her seven-year-old son.
Jurors heard he had woken up early that morning, heard “strange noises” and saw two “heavily intoxicated” men drinking at the bottom of his driveway, one of whom (Mr Poole) was just wearing underpants.
Tompkinson said he watched the pair attempt to stand up and fall several times, while drinking from a bottle of Jagermeister.
“I was very worried (the bottle) would break, that particular area of the driveway was where the seven-year-old liked to practise on the skateboard.
“I thought the best way out of this scenario for everyone was to call the police. They looked like they needed assistance to get home.
Tompkinson told the court he called 999 and was waiting to be connected to the police when he went outside and told the men: “Come on lads, look at the state of you, look at the time, there’s people asleep in the house, you can’t be doing this.”
Asked if he was angry, Tompkinson said: “I think there was a bit of angriness in there, it was a horrible sight and I certainly didn’t want the rest of the household to be greeted by them when they woke up.
“These weren’t boys, they were encroaching on middle aged men who shouldn’t get into a state where they can’t stand.”
Tompkinson said he told the men he had called the police, and one of them replied: “Call who you f***ing like, I’m a social worker.”
He told jurors: “I was absolutely dazzled by that. I repeated verbatim ‘I’m a social worker’ because it hardly seemed like conduct becoming of one.
“It was like, from the moment they started swearing and the moment I could see Karl’s eyes coming into focus, the whole atmosphere changed very quickly.
“I wasn’t expecting any trouble and then when it suddenly did turn, or their attitudes changed, then it was a very frightening situation.”
Tompkinson said the men got to their feet, unsteadily, and started to move towards him.
He told the court he put his hands on Mr Hall and “guided” him to the ground, then saw Mr Poole coming towards him.
“I didn’t want to hurt him, I wanted to stop him to change his mind about coming towards me and further onto my property.”
Tompkinson said as he went to make a ‘stop’ motion, his hand connected with the left side of Mr Poole’s face and that he went to the floor because of his “unsteadiness”.
The court was told Tompkinson still had his phone in his hand after calling 999.
Asked if it would have been possible for him to have made a fist, he said: “Not without breaking my fingers or risking some solid metal going into Karl’s face.”
Asked in cross-examination why he did not tell police at the scene about the confrontation, Tompkinson said: “I’ve been involved in enough police procedurals to know there are initial interviews, then there are another set of interviews. I was waiting to get the chance to fully explain.”
Comedian and writer Andy Hamilton and actors Nichola McAuliffe and Dean Bone appeared in court as character witnesses for Tompkinson, while character statements included one from his Wild At Heart co-star Hayley Mills.
Ms Mills said that Tompkinson played a vet in the series and worked with “every sort of animal, all of which responded to the calm way he dealt with them”.
Mr Hamilton, who worked with Tompkinson on Drop The Dead Donkey, told the court he had “never seen him lose his temper”.
Mr Hamilton said: “I can’t remember ever hearing him raise his voice. I have never seen him get abusive or aggressive with anyone. That’s just not him.”
The trial continues.