A PUB goer was left with permanent brain damage when he fractured his skull after being felled by a single punch to the head, a court heard this week.

Thomas Harding, 22, was left unconscious on the ground after being hit in the face by 24-year-old Alexander Wilson outside a High Wycombe town centre takeaway in the early hours of Sunday July 29.

He had been subjected to abuse about his sexuality just prior to the attack, Amersham Crown Court heard, and had a bin bag thrown at him by a girl with Wilson.

The defendant, of Totteridge Lane, fled the scene along with the three other people he was with, later telling police officers he was "in the wrong place at the wrong time".

It was claimed the punch was in retaliation for Mr Harding spitting at Wilson and threatening to "smash" him - but none of the three eyewitnesses who gave evidence at court on Wednesday said they saw or heard the victim act in that way.

Rossano Scamardella, prosecuting, told the court Mr Harding had been drinking in Scorpios Bar in Crendon Street and was eventually asked to leave, having previously been told he would not be served with any more alcohol.

Mr Scamardella told the six female and six male jurors: "He made his way to the general area of Pizza Go Go in Castle Street. It was here that he was attacked.

"Mr Harding encountered another group of young people in the street, of which this defendant was a part.

"He stepped forward and he punched Mr Harding with a single blow before running off, leaving him unconscious on the ground.

"That blow left him with permanent brain damage.

"He punched him and didn't need to do so."

Mr Scamardella said Mr Harding had abuse shouted at him by two females, Madeleine Pecko and Abigail Hornsby, both of whom were known to him.

A bin bag taken from a nearby skip was thrown at him, but Mr Scamardella said Mr Harding showed no reaction to that or the torrent of abuse he had just received: "He wasn't in any way aggressive in response to that."

Michael Wolkind QC, defending, suggested to eyewitnesses Obardulah Ahmadi and Adbi Reha, who were both working at Pizza Go Go, and taxi driver Shahed Mahmood that Mr Harding spat at Wilson, but none of them said they could see that happen.

CCTV played to the court showed Wilson appear to mask his face with the hood of his jacket as he ran past the Neales taxi office on Corporation Street immediately after the confrontation.

Police came to Wilson's home address the next day and Mr Scamardella said to the jury that he told police: "I think I know what this is about. I wasn't running off, I just wanted two minutes with my girl.

"You know what this is about, officers, it's being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Wilson later answered no comment to all questions asked to him in two subsequent police interviews.

Mr Scamardella told the jury it wasn't in doubt that Wilson had struck Mr Harding, but he said: "The question for us is to decide if he was acting in lawful self defence."

Wilson denies GBH. The trial continues.