A security guard claimed today he thought the dying cries of a violent shoplifter were part of a "trick" to get away.
Sam Bawden, 25, helped catch a fleeing thief and allegedly held him face down in a powerful neck lock, until police arrived.
Aaron Bishop, 23, of Swansea, south Wales, is said to have violently struggled as four security guards in total held his arms and legs.
Horrified shoppers looked on as former soldier Mr Bishop turned purple and eventually died at the Quadrant Shopping Centre, in Swansea.
The father-of-three had been caught stealing a bottle of £35 Joop! perfume from the centre's Debenhams store in July last year.
The jury at Swansea Crown Court has heard shoppers at the scene warned Bawden he was in danger of suffocating the former soldier.
Mr Bishop was heard to plead to be released and complain that he was unable to breathe.
Bawden, of Neath, south Wales, is on trial accused of the manslaughter of Mr Bishop, a charge he denies.
He told the jury today he believed Mr Bishop's claims he could not breathe were part of a "trick" to try to get away.
He also dismissed suggestions he had ever restrained Mr Bishop around the neck and claimed he continued struggling until police arrived.
Speaking in his own defence, he said: "Obviously, in my opinion you have got to breathe, and the fact that he was still struggling, violent and aggressive, the fact that he was still shouting, I came to the conclusion that he was trying to trick us."
He added: "I never thought that he was in physical distress at any point.
"If I had honestly believed that he was in any sort of physical distress I would have assisted him, helped him, eased off him. Personally, I thought we had a duty of care to him."
He agreed that Mr Bishop had complained he could not breathe but said that he had also been abusive.
"He shouted to us to 'f****** get off me,' at one point he did shout 'I cannot breathe,' but the main emphasis was 'f****** get off me."'
He said the first time he was aware that there was something wrong with Mr Bishop was shortly after the police arrived.
Efforts to save Mr Bishop began within seconds of the police arriving on the scene.
Bawden told the court he helped as best he could, bringing a defibrillator to the scene stored at the mall for emergencies.
"I tried to assist as best I could. I felt sick to be honest, shocked and upset. I was shaking," he said.
Elwen Evans QC, defending, asked: "Did you think that you had done anything wrong?"
"No, I did not," Bawden said.
"Did you strangle Mr Bishop," Ms Evans asked.
Bawden: "No, I did not."
Ms Evans: "Did you intentionally cause him any harm?"
Bawden: "No, I did not."
Ms Evans: "Did you deliberately have him in some sort of hold or lock to cause him harm?"
Ms Evans: "Did you want to do him any harm?"