A GRANDFATHER died after being punched in an unprovoked and random attack outside a pub, a jury was told yesterday.

Cliff Palmer is said to have been knocked to the ground before struggling to his feet and falling again twice after the incident in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, last year.

Mr Palmer died in hospital the following day from a haemorrhage caused by a tear in a blood vessel at the base of his brain, a Teesside Crown Court jury was told.

Michael Kelly, who is standing trial for manslaughter, is alleged to have punched father- of-two Mr Palmer outside Blakes pub.

The jury heard that Mr Kelly had earlier told a doorman at the town centre pub that he had had an argument with his girlfriend and that they had “split up again”.

Members of 73-year-old Mr Palmer’s family sobbed in the public gallery as they heard details of the alleged assault and saw his last moments recorded on the pub’s CCTV.

Mr Kelly was said to have fled the scene, but was arrested after the security film was examined, and was later picked out in a series of identity parades.

The 21-year-old labourer told police he might have brushed past Mr Palmer, but denied striking him, and said witnesses who claimed to have seen a punch were wrong.

In one of a number of interviews, Mr Kelly said he had drunk four or five pints of lager and a couple of vodkas with an energy drink, and his memory was hazy. The jury heard that he told police he would never hit a 73-year-old and later said: “Can I ask if it’s possible, with me being drunk, that I’ve maybes walked into this man?”

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said there was no suggestion that there had been any contact or conversation between Mr Palmer and Mr Kelly inside the pub that evening.

The jury watched CCTV footage that showed both men outside Blakes at about halfpast midnight on September 6, moments before the alleged attack. Mr Dodds told the court that licensee Michael Evers was one of a number of people to claim they saw Mr Kelly throw a punch as he walked past Mr Palmer.

“As a result of the strike, the latter fell against metal railings at the side of the footpath, then hit the pavement,”

said Mr Dodds. “Door staff and members of the public went to Mr Palmer’s aid.

When paramedics arrived, Mr Palmer was unconscious on the pavement.”

He died as the result of a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

The injury was caused by a blow, which landed just behind and below Mr Palmer’s right ear.

Pathologist Nigel Cooper will give evidence later in the trial, but Mr Dodds outlined the conclusions from his investigations: “The tear was found in one of the vessels at the base of the brain and the sequence of events is absolutely typical of so-called subarachnoid haemorrhage.”

Mr Kelly, of Mackenzie Place, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, denies manslaughter, and a trial that is expected to last seven or eight days will continue today.