A court has heard how Leigh Centurions three-quarter Anthony Gelling punched his then-wife in the face as she sat in their car, breaking her nose and chipping her tooth in the process.
Gelling appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday to face a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm, which he has pleaded not guilty to. Gelling admits assaulting Tony Mackey, but claims he was acting in self-defence.
Gelling, who has also played Super League for Wigan and Warrington, was answering the charges following an incident last year in which it is alleged he attacked Miss Mackey when she refused to let him collect a pram from the boot of their car, as she was reversing.
Prosecutor Kevin Slack claimed: “The defendant accepts that he punched her but maintains that he did so in self-defence, fearing that he was about to get run over or injured as Ms Mackey reversed the car.”
He added: “Rather than back away when he couldn’t get into the boot, the defendant went to open the car door – which the prosecution say was itself an aggressive act.
“Then, having opened the car door, it wasn’t a reasonable use of force to punch Ms Mackey in the face even if the defendant wanted her to stop the car.
“Quite simply, it was an act of aggression from a man who had lost his cool because his wife was not doing what he wanted her to do.”
Miss Mackey explained how Gelling “tried to control her”, and her police interview from last February, explained how she had asked Gelling to go and have breakfast together hours before he played for Warrington, but instead told her he had to earn it by going to the gym.
However, Miss Mackey said that she instead changed into her gym gear and sat in the car park speaking to a friend on the phone. Later in the day, Gelling asked if he needed the pram to take their baby in order to collect his daughter from school.
She said: “I told him no and I left and got into the car and started reversing. He followed me out saying ‘give me the pram’. I felt like he thought I wasn’t capable of making my own choices. I told him, ‘You don’t need the pram,”.
“I started reversing slowly just to send him a message ‘I’m leaving, move out of the way’. He got out of the way, I was looking over my left shoulder.” Miss Mackey then said that Gelling then opened the driver’s door, and it had a nearby garage door.
She said that there was a button inside the car to open the boot and Gelling opened the driver’s door and she heard it hit an adjacent garage door.
“He said, ‘stop stop’ and as I turned that is when I got hit,” she said. “I felt a massive pain to my face and it left my dazed.. he hit me with force.” She suffered a chipped tooth and a broken nose and cheekbone, and while she initially decided against reporting Gelling to the police, the next day, she made a formal complaint.
Miss Mackey also claimed that Gelling could be “very full on and tense on match days”. He had a match due later that day and had taken magnesium and zinc tablets, which he called his “angry pills” because of the way they made him feel, the court was told. He took them for joint pains the day before games.
Gelling accepted in a police interview that he had punched Miss Mackey, but claimed he had only done it to stop the car to prevent himself from suffering any injuries.
The trial continues.