Actor Stephen Tompkinson has been found not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to a drunken man making noise outside his home.

The 57-year-old actor was accused of punching the man in the early hours of 30 May 2021 in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.

Newcastle Crown Court had heard Mr Tompkinson’s actions caused Karl Poole to fall and fracture his skull.

The DCI Banks star said he acted in self-defence.

Prosecutors claimed he had “snapped” and “lashed out” at Mr Poole in “disgust” at his behaviour.

But Mr Tompkinson told jurors the contact “wasn’t enough to knock a sober man off his feet”.

Mr Tompkinson nodded but showed no visible emotion when the verdict was announced following just under two hours of jury deliberations.

Asked for his reaction as he was leaving court, he told reporters: “I just want to go home.”

‘Heavily intoxicated’

The trial heard Mr Poole and his friend Andrew Hall had been drinking since midnight that bank holiday Sunday and had gone to the beach before walking back.

Mr Tompkinson, who was living with his partner and her seven-year-old son at the time, heard “strange noises” at about 05:30 BST.

Jurors were told he called 999 after seeing the two men try to stand up and fall several times while drinking from a bottle of Jagermeister at the bottom of the driveway.

While waiting to be connected, Mr Tompkinson went outside wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown and told the “heavily intoxicated” men who he was calling.

He said the pair “took great objection to me complaining about them being there” and had started to move towards him.

Karl Poole outside Newcastle Crown Court
Image caption,Karl Poole had told the court he suffered a brain injury after his head hit the pavement

Neighbour Caroline Davidson, who was watching from her bedroom window, told the court she saw Mr Tompkinson slap and punch Mr Poole, causing him to stumble and fall backwards, hitting his head on the ground.

However, Mr Tompkinson, who was born in Stockton-on-Tees, said he could not have punched him because he was holding his phone.

“I didn’t want to hurt him, I wanted to stop him to change his mind about coming towards me and further on to my property,” he said giving evidence.

He told jurors punching a drunk man would have been “career suicide” and that he had already lost acting work since being charged.

He told the court he was “not responsible” for the brain injuries Mr Poole sustained but that he accepted some accountability.

In his closing speech, prosecutor Michael Bunch had said the actor was “an expert in playing a part” and his “obvious talent makes him convincing in putting across a story”.

Speaking after the jury delivered its verdict, Mr Poole said he was shocked and disappointed.