A HUDDERSFIELD man accused of murder broke down in tears as he entered the witness box for the first time.
Shane Thomas, 24, of Longroyd Bridge, is the only man left standing trial for the killing of Michael Hanley, 23, at Sheridan's nightclub, off Manchester Road, Ravensthorpe, on December 27, 2005.
Darren Foley, 19, from Dalton, changed his plea to guilty during the proceedings at Leeds Crown Court two weeks ago.
Jamie Hislop, 22, of Sheepridge, was cleared of murder yesterday on the directions of the judge.
Thomas, who is Hislop's half-brother, told jurors that on the Boxing Day morning before the shooting he woke up with a hangover and later drove his silver VW Golf to his girlfriend's house in Fartown.
He said he left her house at around 9pm and went to his uncle's house in Lindley for a family get-together.
The defendant said he left there at around 12.30pm to pick up his friends nicknamed "Viper" and "Washy", and they went to the Rose and Crown pub in Almondbury, where he remembered seeing Hislop and Foley.
The court heard that the defendant and his two friends left at approximately 1am and he drove them to Sheridan's Bar, parking his car in the designated car park.
Asked by his counsel, Gordon Cole QC why he entered the club through the rear fire door, Thomas explained: "I wasn't paying £15 – it's not worth (that) when I could get in for free."
He described the outfit he was wearing that night as black trainers with white Nike markings, black tracksuit bottoms, and a black hooded top with light blue sleeves and hood with distinctive `AJ' lettering on the back.
He said he went straight towards the bar area with his friends and they bought a bottle of champagne.
Thomas told the court that he was not aware of any ill-feeling in the dance room. He denied bumping into anyone or arguing with anyone there and said he did not make any type of gesture to anybody in that room.
He admitted he did notice something happening at the back of the room concerning Foley, the victim and his friend Vinod France.
He said: "It was brought to my attention by a friend. I could see Darren Foley talking to a man I now believe to be Michael Hanley.
"I knew they (Foley and Mr Hanley) never knew each other, (it was) just the general attitude from both of them.
"I went to see what was happening, It looked like it was two against one, it was turning nasty."
He said Foley had suffered a head injury the previous November which affected his personality and made him unstable.
Thomas said: "There was more shouting between them, as I came towards them a fight broke out. I became involved breaking it up."
Thomas said the fight moved from the corridor into the bar area where it finally broke up. Referring to a still taken from the club's CCTV camera showing him making a gesture with his arms, the defendant said he was just moving them about in the air and not gesturing like he was going to kill someone.
He admitted waving his hands towards Mr Hanley, and that he spoke to the victim in the club.
He said: I can't remember specifically (what I was saying), the music was loud.
"I wasn't threatening to shoot him – I might have threatened to knock him out."
Thomas said he walked out voluntarily when asked to leave by bouncers, and that they had taken Mr Hanley out before him.
He said: "As I walked towards the end of the doorway, Mr Hanley was to the left-hand side. As I walked out of the club he threw a punch at me.
"It skinned my face, a fight broke out."
"We were fighting for about 30 seconds, it started breaking up – he started pulling away. I tried to grab him back – I was so angry at him for punching me – I grabbed hold of his chain and it snapped."
The defendant told the court that as the fight broke off he headed back to his car. He said Hanley and some other men were also walking in the same direction.
He said: "Darren Foley pulled the gun out of his waist and walked down towards Mr Hanley. Mr Hanley turned round and Darren Foley shot him.
The defendant said he had no idea that would happen and he watched the deceased stumbling towards the car park before he fell.
He said: "People starting moving towards the car park – they were walking and running.
"I was mad, mad that Darren Foley had just shot somebody I'd had a fight with."
He told jurors that he got into his car and waited for the two friends he had arrived with earlier that night.
He said: "I reversed up towards the gates, I could see up through the cars. I could see Darren Foley hitting the window with the gun, there were people around.
"I was p****d off, these guys had gone too far."
The defendant told the court that Foley tried to get into the back of his car, thinking he would give him a lift back to Huddersfield.
He said: "I was cursing him! I told him to get out of my car."
Thomas said Foley did get out of the car and he drove off, leaving him in the car park.
He said a car ran into the back of his as he made his way out of the club's premises.
The defendant told the court he dropped off his friends and then left his damaged car at his girlfriend's house.
Hislop, Thomas and a third man, Igor Simic, 21, of Berry Brow, face the charge of perverting the course of justice, which they all deny.
The trial continues.