A FORMER Darlington footballer who was paralysed after diving into a pool while on holiday is now suing for £8.5m.

Middlesbrough-born Jonathan “Joey” Hutchinson was on holiday with a friend in June 2016 when he sustained serious spinal injuries in a swimming pool accident and is now a tetraplegic and uses a wheelchair.

The 37-year-old broke his neck while at the Ocean Beach Club, which was set up by Gary Lineker’s brother Wayne.

Mr Hutchinson, who joined Darlington in 2003 and also played for Birmingham City, now wants £8.5m damages, claiming the tragedy could have been avoided had there been easily visible signs warning that diving was banned.

He is suing the company which owns the club - Ice Mountain Ibiza SL - and the company's Spanish insurers, both of whom deny liability for the accident.

The club is the creation of Wayne Lineker, 57, while his son Duane is a director and partner in Ice Mountain Ibiza SL.

Mr Hutchinson’s case reached London’s High Court this week in a pre-trial clash as lawyers argued whether it should go ahead in the UK or in Spain.

The pool tragedy occurred the night after Mr Hutchinson and his friend went to Ibiza on June 2, and after the pair enjoyed a “leisurely lunch” near the island’s Bora Bora beach.

When they arrived back in the isle’s capital, San Antonio, they were approached by reps from the Ocean Beach Club from whom they bought entry tickets, his lawyers allege.

The two men spent their time at the club’s “day club” which boasts a 600 sq metre pool, “milling around” the bar area and DJ box, said Mr Hutchinson’s QC, Sarah Crowther.

She said the pool was of “irregular size and variable depth”, and contains various features including bars and “platforms for dancers and entertainers”.

Mr Hutchinson had been at the Ocean Beach for just a few hours when he suffered the injuries.

Both he and his companion had been drinking during the day, said Miss Crowther in court documents, adding: “They were drinking Corona beer from bottles and had drunk about four each”.

Mr Hutchinson could not remember exactly what happened due to his injuries but his pal had returned to the resort on the day after the accident and requested to see CCTV of the incident, the barrister said.

She added he was told he could not see it and Ocean Beach Club has since informed Mr Hutchinson's representatives it has since destroyed footage taken on 3 June 2016.

His legal team claim the pool was inadequately supervised, and lacked sufficient warning signs restricting diving.

Ice Mountain Ibiza deny liability, and say English courts have no jurisdiction to try the case.

They are also arguing that any claim Mr Hutchinson may have against the company could be invalidated because he "was in the VIP area at the time of his accident...and had not purchased access to the VIP area."

Mr Hutchinson, who played for Birmingham City in the Premier League before switching to Darlington and later York City, quit football in 2008 following a history of recurring injuries.

After retiring from the game the dad-of-two took up work as a welding inspector, but the pool catastrophe left him in need of a wheelchair, stricken by pain, and effectively paralysed from the waist down.

As well as suing Ice Mountain Ibiza, he is also taking action against insurers, Mapfre Espana Compania De Seguros Y Reaseguros SA.

The insurance company insist the case cannot proceed in England because the club’s insurance policy only applies in Spain.

Ice Mountain also disputes the UK courts’ right to try the case.

The judge, Mrs Justice Andrews, is to decide whether the action should go ahead in England or in Spain.

The judge has now reserved her decision on that question to be given at a later date.