Footballer killed after agreeing attacker ‘fat and ginger’, court hears

A footballer was punched to the floor and killed after agreeing one of his attackers was “fat and ginger”, a court heard.

Matlock Town FC midfielder Jordan Sinnott died in hospital after suffering a fractured skull and brain damage in an assault in the centre of Retford, Nottinghamshire, at about 2am on January 25.

Nottingham Crown Court heard how one of the 25-year-old’s alleged attackers, Kai Denovan, “flew immediately into a rage” after the footballer joined in with what he believed to be the defendant’s “self-deprecating humour”.

Jordan Sinnott death
A police scene in Retford market place, Nottinghamshire, where footballer Jordan Sinnott was assaulted in the early hours of January 25 (Jacob King/PA)

Jurors heard Denovan, 22, “followed rapidly behind” Mr Sinnott and his two friends Ben Bossons and Adam Towlson into The Vine pub before telling him he was a “good-looking lad” and would have no trouble “pulling girls” – unlike him, who was “fat and ginger”.

“Yes I can see that,” Mr Sinnott replied, which the prosecution argued provoked the defendant’s alleged behaviour.

Denovan’s co-defendant Cameron Matthews pleaded guilty to manslaughter at an earlier hearing – admitting he was the one who administered the fatal punch.

Sean Nicholson, 22, of Beechways, Retford, admitted affray in connection with the same incident.

Matthews, of Denman Close, Retford, hit Mr Sinnott “two or three times” after the violence spilled out into the street outside the pub.

Jordan Sinnott death
Tributes left outside the ground of Matlock Town Football Club for Mr Sinnott (Jacob King/PA)

The court heard the 21-year-old was “taking over” from Denovan who was “plainly hell-bent on trouble” – and who had allegedly punched Mr Sinnott twice in the face while inside The Vine.

Prosecutor Michael Auty QC told the court Mr Sinnott was willing to apologise for any offence caused – but described Denovan, Matthews and Nicholson as a “pack hunting down and exacting retribution”.

Opening the case against Denovan, prosecutor Mr Auty said: “As deaths go, it was about as senseless, avoidable and devastating as perhaps it was possible to be.

“He died, in fact, as a direct consequence of blows struck by Cameron Matthews, not by Mr Denovan.

Jordan Sinnott tributes
Many clubs paid tribute to Jordan Sinnott, including nearby Derby County (Nick Potts/PA)

“However, you will all readily understand that those who knowingly assist or encourage… are liable too, even where theirs was not the fatal blow – perhaps even where they personally struck no blow at all.

“If you set about someone with your fists, then it is obvious that you intend, at the very least, some physical harm.

“Whilst he did not know Jordan Sinnott… Kai Denovan followed rapidly behind him and made a comment to Jordan Sinnott that he was a ‘good looking lad’ and would have no difficulty ‘pulling girls’, unlike him who, he volunteered, was ‘fat and ginger’.

“What the true purpose of the remark was, only Kai Denovan knows. It’s hard to imagine how anyone might sensibly have replied.”

Mr Auty described Denovan’s comment as a “deliberate honey trap”.

He continued: “In the end, Jordan Sinnott chose to say words to the effect of, ‘Yes, I can see that,’ no doubt thinking he was simply joining in with what appeared to be self-deprecating humour.

“It’s hard to imagine there might ever have been an acceptable response, and Kai Denovan flew immediately into a rage, albeit contrived and entirely of his own making.”

Mr Auty said after the initial confrontation, in which Denovan allegedly struck Mr Sinnott twice, the victim and his two friends left the pub to buy food.

He said: “Denovan, having contrived a situation inside, and then erupted into violence when there was no need whatsoever, continued to lead the charge.

“It is Denovan who is driving the exit from The Vine and deliberately pursuing Jordan Sinnott and his friends outside.

“He isn’t avoiding trouble – he’s desperately seeking it.

“Denovan wasn’t interested in apologies – he wanted retribution, his own warped and dangerous justice.

“He, of course, had senselessly started it all in the first place, and had he the integrity and grace to admit it and behave as Jordan Sinnott did, everyone could have gone their own separate ways, no-one would have been hurt, much less killed, and events that evening would probably never have been mentioned again.”

Denovan, of Collins Walk, Retford, denies manslaughter, affray and common assault.

The trial continues.

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