ONE punch outside a Cheltenham nightclub left a man, who had been goaded and taunted about plankton and a beached whale, permanently brain damaged.
Christopher Perrett hit Liam Malone in the face outside the 2 Pigs nightclub in the spa town causing him to smash his head on the pavement, leaving him unconscious and bleeding.
Gloucester Crown Court heard Mr Malone, 24, was put into an induced coma because of a blood clot on the brain and suffered life changing injuries following the attack on June 2, 2013.
Perrett, 20, of Stonelea in Cam denied causing him grievous bodily harm and said he feared for his own safety during the altercation and threw the punch in self-defence.
Prosecutor David Maunder told the jury at around closing time Mr Malone was approached by Perrett and his friend Anson Cook, who bizarrely kept asking him if he had any plankton.
“They appeared to be teasing and goading him in order to provoke some kind of reaction,” Mr Maunder told the jury.
"They kept repeating the word plankton to Mr Malone. You may feel that is rather curious. The question and remarks were made in an accent that was put on with a provocative smirk.
“It was unsurprising Mr Malone appeared confused by this and then, after a period, irritated.
“He didn't know why they were saying these things to him and they did not explain it.
"You may infer that is precisely what they wanted - to anger and irritate him, to wind him up, to provoke a hostile reaction.
"To put it bluntly and succinctly, they were looking for trouble. The more Mr Malone became irritated and annoyed by this, the more they persisted."
Mr Maunder said Mr Malone had to be restrained by some of his friends before pushing and shoving started.
During the brawl Perrett was said to have been knocked backwards and Mr Maunder said he was separated from the group arguing and had the opportunity to leave.
But instead he threw a hard punch at Mr Malone, hitting him hard in the face, knocking him unconscious.
The court heard during police interview, Perrett, admitted he had punched Mr Malone from Cheltenham because he was “scared for his own health”. He said he had been punched in the stomach during the altercation and suffered from a fungi infection afterwards.
He told police the plankton was a reference to a You Tube video. He said it was just a “bit of banter and not threatening” and they did not expect Mr Malone to get angry.
Mr Malone’s brother, Conner, 21, from St Paul’s in Cheltenham, was with him that night.
He said he saw red after Mr Malone was hit and chased after Perrett and Mr Cook, who had fled the scene.
The student told the court: “I heard raised voices and I turned around to see they were all arguing.
“Before I knew he was on the floor. I heard his head hit the floor and screams – screams from the girls.
“I saw red. The next thing I remember I was running down the road. Rage was going through my mind and panic.
“But I came to my senses and I realised I needed to go back to my brother.”
When Connor returned he said the ambulance was there and his brother was still unconscious, lying next to blood and sick.
Another witness Albany Holder said she saw Mr Malone turn 360 degrees following the punch before she heard a crack and thought he was dead.
Andrew Banfield, who was also out with Mr Malone that night, said he saw the blow which knocked him out before a flurry of punches were thrown between the two groups.
The trial continues.