South West Wales

Daniel Shepherd a 'perfect gentleman', trial hears

Jonathan Robert Thomas and Daniel Jason Shepherd
Image caption Jonathan Thomas (l) died after the incident and Daniel Shepherd is in court over the death

A man accused of killing a former rugby player with a punch to the back of the head has been described as a "perfect gentleman" and "exemplary individual".

Daniel Shepherd, 23, from Skewen, Neath Port Talbot, said he acted in self-defence when he hit Jonathan Thomas, 34, outside the Cross Keys pub in Swansea city centre last November.

Mr Thomas died in hospital about an hour after the attack on 1 November.

The defendant has denied manslaughter at his trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Mr Shepherd's barrister Nicola Powell read a dozen character references, including ones from a former teacher and a retired police officer, who described him as popular, polite and respectful.

Earlier, the jury was shown CCTV footage of an incident on Oxford Street in Swansea city centre, involving Mr Thomas.

In the footage, he is seen staggering towards a group of people, before punching a man once in the face, knocking him off his feet to the ground.

Witness Rhys Thomas told the jury that Jonathon Thomas bumped into his friends and wanted to fight him before throwing a punch at him.

"He was fairly intimidating and aggressive towards us," he said.

"He kept on asking me to go round the corner for a fight with him."

During the trial, the prosecution has claimed Mr Shepherd had reacted aggressively when Mr Thomas bumped into him outside the pub in the early hours of the morning.

Michael Jones, prosecuting, had told the jury that the defendant had struck Mr Thomas from behind.

"This was a punch delivered in anger and without any justification," he said.

Mr Shepherd was arrested at his home in Neath later that morning. The court heard he appeared to be in shock when he was informed Mr Thomas was dead.

The judge is expected to begin summing up the case on Tuesday.

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