An ‘intoxicated’ financial advisor today admitted drinking wine and at least five pints before a fight broke out with a family who he claims had his girlfriend ‘pinned to the floor’ at a late-night buffet.
Paul Evans, 45, has denied kicking 21-year-old Alice Gardner ‘like he was taking a penalty’ when a brawl erupted onboard the P&O Royal Britannia in July 2019.
Evans today told Southampton Crown Court that he was making camomile tea for himself and his girlfriend Tabatha Young when he spotted her being ‘pinned’ to the ground in the Horizon buffet.
The man claims he ran over to ‘save’ Young, 43, who interviews boxers on YouTube and has admitted to causing actual bodily harm, and ‘wrestled’ two men to stop her from being ‘beaten up.’
Evans is accused of assaulting Justin Gardner, his nurse wife Sarah and daughter Alice after he was overheard saying he wanted to ‘s***’ and ‘f***’ in front of their 16-year-old daughter.
Paul Evans (above outside court), 45, has denied kicking 21-year-old Alice Gardner ‘like he was taking a penalty’ when a brawl erupted onboard the P&O Royal Britannia in July 2019
Evans today told Southampton Crown Court that he was making camomile tea for himself and his girlfriend Tabatha Young (above) when he spotted her being ‘pinned’ to the ground
The fight was allegedly sparked when the family asked Evans to stop swearing as they dined at a late-night buffet during the cruise through the Norwegian fjords.
Jurors heard how an ‘intoxicated’ Evans had consumed a glass of red wine with his dinner and ‘no more than five pints’ at a family disco he attended before the buffet.
He admitted he was ‘drunk’ at the time of the alleged brawl.
Evans told the court he had wrestled with Mr Gardner and another passenger – Andrew Irving – but denied attacking either of the two women involved.
Recounting the evening, Evans said he attended a black tie event and danced in the ship’s Live Lounge with Young, who he had been dating for a year and a half.
At around 12.30am, Evans decided to ‘call it a night’ and suggested the pair get a pint of camomile tea from the Horizon 24-hour buffet on Deck 16, the court heard.
Evans, who previously worked for the firm Brite Advisors, said: ‘I just thought let’s get some tea and to go bed. Then I saw [Young] sit down with three guys.
Prosecution say this CCTV image shows Evans’ first attempt at throwing Justin Gardener’s phone into the sea, which fails
‘She was a bit drunk. She was just chatting to [one of the teenagers]. I thought it was a bit rude actually.’
Southampton Crown Court previously heard how Young had been ‘rabbiting away’ and was asking one of the young men about his sexuality.
Evans said: ‘I said “You can’t talk to people like that”. She said “Oh, he doesn’t give a f***”.’
Alice then came over and asked those at the table to stop swearing as they were making other guests in the buffet ‘uncomfortable’, the court heard.
Evans said: ‘The girl was polite. I said “F*** this I’m going”.’
After leaving the buffet, Evans said he went to his room and briefly watched a yacht programme on TV before deciding to return to the dining room and fetch Young.
He said: ‘I went back to make a camomile tea to egg her on to go to bed.
He then throws the phone for a second time and manages to toss the device overboard
Families ran to hide during the late-night buffet fight that broke out aboard the P&O Royal Britannia ship (pictured)
‘When I started to make the tea, I looked through the griddle wall and I saw Tabatha pinned down. I ran back in.
‘The mum [Sarah Gardner] was kneeling on her arm and [Alice Gardner] was kicking her.
‘I saw this and started to pick up speed and shouted “What the f*** are you doing?”
‘She was being attacked and beaten up. [Justin Gardner] had hold of [Tabatha] and was on her.
‘If you see a woman being punched down and kicked you are going to go over and save her. I grabbed [Mr Gardner] and tried to pull him up.
‘I pushed [Alice Gardner] off [Tabatha].
‘I am from a family of women. I did not assault the family. Why would I ever do that to a woman?’
Evans, of Clayhall, Essex, denies three counts of actual bodily harm and one count of robbery
Andrew Irving was enjoying a meal onboard the P&O Royal Britannia with his granddaughter, Elsie-Mai, 10, and his wife Gaynor Abrams (above outside court with Mr Irving) when the fight broke out
Evans told the court he had ‘wrestled’ with both Mr Gardner, 50, and Mr Irving who later intervened, but insisted he did not attack Alice or Sarah Gardner.
He denied ‘running up and kicking’ Mr Gardner and said he did not put Mr Irving in a headlock, the court heard.
It is alleged Evans ‘rugby tackled’ Mrs Gardner, 48, to get her husband’s mobile phone from her as she had been attempting to film him.
However, Evans denied this and said he had instead ‘smashed’ it from her and tried to ‘snap it in half’.
Evans then went onto the smoking area of Deck 16 and threw the mobile overboard, in what he described as a ‘flash’ decision done out of ‘spite’, the court heard.
Young has pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm and is yet to be sentenced
Once security arrived, Evans grew ‘mad’ and was worried about his girlfriend as ‘she had blood all down her face’ and had ‘ripped her dress’, he said.
He told jurors: ‘I was very upset with the security guards because where were they when all this was going on?’
Evans was remanded in a cabin for more than 36 hours before he was interviewed by police when the ship docked in Southampton.
He denies three counts of actual bodily harm – against Mr Gardner, Alice Gardner and Mr Irving – and one count of robbery.
Young pleaded guilty to causing Mrs Gardner actual bodily harm and is yet to be sentenced.
Evans said: ‘I am a godfather to three of my friends’ kids. I am a good man. I do charity work. I do not go around beating up and hitting people or saying stuff about 16-year-old children.’
He added: ‘I have had to go on antidepressants and I have had to see alcohol people because I have been drinking a lot.’
Jurors were told Evans was cautioned for battery in 2007 after he intervened during an altercation on the London Underground.
At the time of the brawl the ship had just left Bergen, Norway, and was five days into a seven night tour of Norway’s famous fjords.
A suite on the Britannia for this cruise currently costs from £1,429 per person.
The trial continues.