A Premier League footballer has denied hitting a nightclub bouncer with his belt.
Crystal Palace captain Jason Puncheon was charged with assault and possessing a weapon after an an alleged fight near a Surrey nightclub in the early hours of December 17.
The midfielder, 31, of Kingswood had been partying with friends at nearby Mishiko on Church Street, Reigate.
He appeared at Guildford Magistrates’ Court today dressed in a black suit, hobbling into court using crutches.
Puncheon pleaded not guilty to a section four public order offence, causing fear or provocation of violence and a second charge of common assault.
A third charge of possession of an offensive weapon was withdrawn by the prosecution.
Darren Matravers, prosecuting, told the court: ‘The defendant is caught on CCTV removing the belt from his trousers then approaching a group of people and swinging that belt.
‘At that stage it doesn’t appear the belt connects with anybody.
‘By committing that act he effectively is causing the fear of immediate violence and hence the section four public order charge against him.
‘He walks away, then returns to the group still with the belt in his hand and again he swings the belt and the second time the belt buckle is at the free end and that connects with the back of the victim’s head who has been identified as Paul Mendy, a member of the security staff at the location.
‘Fortunately he wasn’t injured after receiving the blow to the head.’
Mr Matravers said police officers attended and reported that Puncheon continued to use ‘aggressive behaviour’.
Gary Bloxsome, defending, said the CCTV footage described by the prosecutor was a ‘snapshot’ and did not show the events leading up to the incident.
He said it did not show ‘the defendant being picked upon, this defendant having difficulties within the club, then having additional difficulties.
‘What we are being given is a snapshot as to what the Crown said was his conduct, what we need to look at is what was happening immediately prior.’
He said Puncheon denied the assault or using behaviour likely to cause fear of violence.
The case has been sent for trial at Staines Magistrates’ Court on June 4.
Puncheon has been released on bail with the conditions not to contact Mr Mendy or enter the Mishiko nightclub.