Elderly couple 'beaten unconscious' on Canary Islands cruise

Graeme Finlay leaves Teesside Crown Court in Middlesbrough where he is on trial for attacking two pensioners on a cruise ship off the coast of Lanzarote. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 21, 2015. Finlay, 53, denies unlawfully wounding Ron Phillips, 70, who walks with a crutch and was carrying two cocoas for him and his 68-year-old wife June. See PA story COURTS Cruise. Photo credit should read: Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire

A tourist who had an altercation with two frail pensioners on an all-inclusive cruise told police he was acting in self-defence, a court has heard.

Graeme Finlay, 53, denies unlawfully wounding Ron Phillips, 70, who walks with a crutch and was carrying two cocoas for him and his 68-year-old wife June.

Finlay, of Meadowside Quay Walk, Glasgow, also denies causing grievous bodily harm to Mrs Phillips outside their cabin while they were cruising off Lanzarote in January 2014. Source: PA

Mr Philips suffered a gash to the forehead when he was repeatedly punched and knocked out, and his wife was later found to have fractured two vertebrae after being shoved against a wall, causing her to lose consciousness, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Finlay told officers he hit Mr Phillips in self-defence, the court heard, but he denied attacking his wife.

Mr Philips, who has had a hip replacement, told the jury he and his wife had enjoyed dinner, been to a cabaret bar and taken part in a music quiz, and at about 1am they decided to "turn in".

He was carrying their two mugs of cocoa back to their cabin on the Thomson Celebration when he was punched in the corridor. His wife had gone before him and was holding the door open.

Mr Phillips said: "I turned my head to the left and the next thing I knew, I was coming to on the floor with various people around me."

Mr Phillips, lying with his bad leg folded underneath him, saw a lot of blood and spotted the mugs had smashed.

He had suffered a gash to the forehead which required six stitches by the ship's medical team.

He added: "June was at the side of me complaining bitterly, saying 'Oh my back, my back."

The court heard the couple had been assisted by the crew to get on board the cruise ship as they both had "limited mobility", and that Mrs Phillips suffered from painful osteoarthritis.

Lewis Kerr, prosecuting, said she had seen her husband being punched several times and that he was bleeding from his face. When she went to his aid, she was shoved against a wall.

He said: "She was thrown, knocked or pushed against the wall and she believes shortly thereafter she passed out, unconscious."

Mr Phillips said the couple had alcoholic drinks that night, but also had coffees and chocolates and were enjoying their all-inclusive holiday.

He denied being in any arguments that evening, and did not recall seeing a man come down in the lift with them from the bar.

Mr Kerr said after the attack, the crew found blood stains in Finlay's cabin and he was "disembarked" from the cruise.

When the couple returned to Teesside, Mrs Phillips was still in pain and a trip to the hospital revealed the two fractured vertebrae, the jury heard.

Finlay was questioned by police in the UK and said there had been an argument that night, and accepted he hit Mr Phillips, the prosecution said. But he did not accept causing the injury to Mrs Phillips and he had been acting in self-defence.

Mr Kerr disputed that claim, and even if it was accepted by the jury, the level of force used "went far beyond any measure of what could be considered reasonable self-defence", he said.

The jury was told the Phillipses had dinner with another couple and the defendant, whom they did not know, had briefly sat with them. He denied any other contact with him that evening.

The trial continues.

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