Bouncer in brawl with footballers 'was unlicensed'

A bouncer who was temporarily blinded after being hit with a bottle allegedly by a professional footballer was working illegally at the nightclub where he was injured, a court was told yesterday.

Trevor Thirlwall, who suffered deep cuts around his left eye in a fight involving the Chelsea defender John Terry and two fellow players, was not licensed to work as a doorman at the members-only club in Knightsbridge, London. The claim was made by the lawyer for Mr Terry, 21, who is accused of wounding Mr Thirlwall with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at the Wellington Club in January.

The "disgraceful and violent" brawl was alleged to have been started by Mr Terry, his team-mate Jody Morris, 23, and the Wimbledon defender Des Byrne, 22, when they were ejected from the venue.

The three men, who deny a joint charge of affray, are accused of harassing staff and customers during a drinking session at the club. Mr Morris, an England Under-21 player with Mr Terry, who denies the charge, is said to have taunted Mr Thirlwall, 28, citing how much he earned and threatening to have him sacked.

But Desmond de Silva, for Mr Terry, told Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court in London that the doorman had not been authorised by the local authority to work that night.

Cross-examining Sasha Keegan, the manager of the basement bar, Mr de Silva said: "Many people may not realise this, but a doorman at a nightclub such as yours has got to be registered with Westminster City Council. It's a criminal offence for someone to act as a doorman who has not been so licensed. On this night ... Mr Thirlwall was not licensed."

Mr Thirlwall, who was with two colleagues when the footballers were ejected from the club, said that Mr Terry had lunged at him in an alleyway.

The doorman told the court: "I felt the sheer weight of a blunt object ... and it absolutely shattered my eye and cheekbone. My eye exploded in blood ... I have never ever experienced the pain of being hit like that." The case continues.