A Sainsbury's security guard who described himself as a “powerful gentleman” took to the witness stand in court during a trial today (Thursday, August 22), where he was quizzed on whether he had punched a Reading man he believed was a shoplifter, twice in the face.

Sydney McDonald told a jury that the man in the dock, Khairi Saadallah, had become enraged when, as a guard, he had accused him of stealing a bottle from the Sainsbury’s store.

The 25-year-old defendant had punched Mr McDonald in the face, rushed at him with a broken bottle of a wine and whipped his face with a belt, the jury was told.

However, a barrister defending Saadallah argued it was Mr McDonald who had punched the defendant twice in the face after following him out of the supermarket.

Merry van Woodenberg asked the security guard: “You say he has hit you and punched you in the head.

"You raised your hand up to defend yourself.

"In your witness statement, you do not say you struck him in any way. You only say you restrained him."

Mr McDonald, denying the suggestion, said: “I am quite a powerful gentleman.

"If I had punched him, he would have been really hurt.”

Ms Woodenberg replied: “Is that the case, Mr McDonald? We will come back to that.”

CCTV footage seen by the jury showed Saadallah, wearing a cap and a backpack, taking a bottle of wine from his jacket while stood outside the Sainsbury's store in Friar Street, Reading, and emptying it in front of Mr McDonald before dashing it on the ground where it smashed.

In the moments before the recording began, Mr McDonald told the jury of eight women and four men that Saadallah, who had been ‘flat as a pancake’ when he came in, had tired to leave the store after acting suspiciously in the alcohol aisle and a bottle shaped bugle having appeared in his jacket.

The security guard said he believed Saadallah, of Jimmy Green Lane, Reading, had stolen a bottle of alcohol and so, in his role as the only on-duty security guard in the evening of January 16, he had said to the defendant: “Excuse me, I’ll have the bottle back please.”

Prosecuting, Emily Lauchlan said: “At this point, a bottle fell out of this defendant’s jacket and on to the floor.

"The defendant opened it and a sparkling substance foamed over.

"This defendant took that bottle and emptied it in the face of Mr McDonald before smashing it on the floor.

"This defendant was aggressive from the very moment that Mr McDonald confronted him.

"This defendant, the Crown says, hit Mr McDonald in the face. Mr McDonald went to defend himself.

"It is accepted that this defendant was injured at that point. A struggle took place between the two men."

A woman known by Mr McDonald as a regular shopper at the Sainsbury's store, who worked in the casino across the road had rushed over to stand between the two men.

Ms Lauchlan said: “Mr McDonald fell on to the floor. At this, this defendant reaches down, picks up part of that broken bottle and tries to go towards Mr McDonald with that, with the intention to harm him.

“We see their defendant remove the belt from his waistband, wrap it around his hand and swing it towards Mr McDonald.”

The CCTV footage showed Mr McDonald and another member of staff from Sainsbury’s bring Saadallah to the ground as a squad car from Thames Valley Police mounted the pavement and two officers intervened.

Police had been concerned about Saadallah, the jury were told, because he was bleeding and vomiting, so they had taken him immediately to hospital before taking him for interview at a police station.

In his interview, Saadallah maintained he was the victim of an assault, claiming Mr McDonald had been racist to him and had hit him a number of times in the face.

Saadallah was charged with affray, assault by beating and two counts of having an offensive weapon, in relation to the broken bottle and his belt.

Judge Emma Nott, told the jury at Reading Crown Court that the issue was whether Saadallah had acted in self defence.

She read out a legal definition which said: “If a man or a woman is attacked or about to be attacked or believes that he or she is about to be attacked, he or she is entitled to use reasonable force to defend him or herself.”

The judge emphasised to the jury that an assault in retaliation to provocation was not legal self-defence but reminded them that they were the ones to decide whether the defendant had acted in self-defence in this case.

The trial continues.