It was a seemingly innocuous moment that set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately end in tragedy.
A woman’s handbag was knocked over inside a city centre nightclub, sparking a drunken fracas in which ‘the hounds of hell were unleashed to wreak havoc’.
At the end of the brawl, one man lay dead in the road, another man had been stabbed twice in the leg and two others were left needing hospital treatment.
Now, after a 14-day trial, three people are facing time in jail for their part in the affray in Wolverhampton.
Tom Kirwan died when he was stabbed during the mass brawl outside Wolverhampton city centre’s Uberra Club – now the Canal Club – in the early hours of the morning on July 8, 2012.
Nobody has been caught for Wolves fan Mr Kirwan’s death and the jury were told at the start of the trial that none of the defendants were involved in his death.
But at Wolverhampton Crown Court Shannon Samuels, Nathan Hanson and Kieran Stubbs, all aged 20, were found guilty of participating in the scenes which led up to the tragedy.
Prosecutor Mr David Bennett told the court: “We moved from pushing and shoving to large-scale violence, which tragically resulted in a man’s death.”
Throughout the trial the jury was shown CCTV images cataloguing some of the violence, in which the prosecution said the three defendants played an ‘active role’.
The court heard trouble flared after an argument broke out between two groups of revellers, including Tom’s brother, 21-year-old Brooklen Kirwan. He had been removed from the club following a separate incident inside. The second group included Nathan Hanson and Kieran Stubbs, who had come into the city looking for somewhere to drink, as well as Shannon Samuels, Edward Clayton and Judane Brown.
Samuels, who told the jury she had acted as peacemaker during the incident, was part of a group including Clayton, Stubbs and Brown, who ran up the street towards Brooklen Kirwan as the melee ensued. The CCTV images showed that within seconds a blow from Brown left Declan Gibson on the floor unconscious, while other clubbers rushed to his aid. Stubbs claimed during the trial that he was trying to stop the fighting. But he was seen on the CCTV footage being struck before he lashed out himself. Hanson was said to have traded blows with Brooklen Kirwan. During the trial Hanson declined to give evidence in his defence, after telling police he could not recall what happened Brooklen Kirwan, who was acquitted of affray during the same trial, had told police he used lawful violence to protect himself after he came under attack.
His counsel, Mr Shawn Williams, said: “Some despicable coward stabbed Tom Kirwan during this time,” he said. “The hounds of hell were unleashed to wreak havoc during the morning of July 8.”
Hanson, of Enville Road, Warstones; Samuels, of Overton Walk, Merry Hill and Stubbs, of Brantley Avenue, Finchfield, were found guilty of affray. Judane Brown, of Kingswood Gardens, Penn, and Edward Clayton, of Brookdale Drive, Penn, both 20, admitted the same charge. Shanice Dowie, of Strathfield Walk, Merry Hill, 21, admitted using threatening or abusive words. They will be sentenced on July 11.