Rugby star's father 'beaten to death' outside nightclub

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The Independent Online

The father of the England rugby player Ben Cohen was beaten to death by three men in the doorway of a nightclub, a court heard.

Peter Cohen, 58, the club's manager,died in November last year from a blood clot alleged to have been caused during the assault a month earlier.

The violence began after Colin Kerr, 32, of Rothersthorpe came to the Eternity nightclub in Northampton "spoiling for a fight", the jury at Birmingham Crown Court was told.

Mr Kerr's elder brother, Gavin, 33, of Northampton, joined in the assault as he was being thrown out of the club for violent behaviour, said David Farrell QC, for the prosecution.

The court was told that Mr Cohen was repeatedly punched before he fell and smashed his head against a cash machine. The fight also involved a third man, Robert Evans .

Mr Farrell said: "The three defendants, having fuelled themselves with drink at various public houses in Northampton, went to the Eternity nightclub, with Colin Kerr spoiling for a fight. Within minutes of arriving, Colin Kerr did exactly as he had intended and the other two defendants willingly joined in."

The jury heard that Colin Kerr grabbed Christopher Keenan, a member of staff, around the neck and made threatening movements signalising that he would cut his throat.

Mr Keenan, 18, from Northampton, said he was collecting glasses when Colin Kerr beckoned him over and began to abuse him. Mr Keenan alerted Mr Cohen, who came to investigate. Mr Keenan said he next heard the sound of breaking glass and then Mr Cohen emerged with his face covered in blood.

The club's doorman, Justin Nwoga, said he saw Colin Kerr punch Mr Cohen in the face as a commotion broke out in the entrance hall.

Mr Nwoga said he was pushed out of the front door by a man he believed to be Mr Evans, 32, and was then prevented from re-entering.

He ran around the club and jumped over a fence to get back in and calm the situation, he told the jury.

Mr Nwoga said that, as he re-entered, he saw Mr Cohen being held in a head lock by Gavin Kerr before Mr Cohen was taken upstairs with a gash across his head and blood running down his face.

All three defendants deny manslaughter and violent disorder.

The trial continues today.