THE best friend of a stabbing victim who was knifed to death inside a nightclub on Boxing Day has told a jury the attack started with a headbutt after a masked group approached them on the dancefloor.

Dan Vann told Birmingham Crown Court he was only around a foot away from Cody Fisher, of Redditch, when the 23-year-old was “surrounded” by a large crowd, one of whom shouted for him to go outside.

Semi-professional footballer Mr Fisher, who previously played for Bromsgrove Sporting, Stourbridge FC and Kidderminster Harriers' Academy, is alleged to have been killed on Boxing Day 2022 as a “planned act of retribution” after a minor incident on Christmas Eve involving one of the three men accused of his murder.

Jurors have been told Remy Gordon carried out “awful revenge” at Birmingham’s Crane Nightclub after Mr Fisher made brief “unavoidable” contact with his back while leaving a crowded bar with a friend two days earlier.

Gordon, 23, is standing trial alongside Kami Carpenter, 22, and 19-year-old Reegan Anderson, who all deny murder.

Giving evidence on Thursday, Mr Vann, who had known Mr Fisher for around six years and was also with him during the incident on Christmas Eve, said the attack happened at about 11.40pm.

He told the court: “There was a large crowd moving towards us, acting quite rough. They were coming over… with masks up to the nose.

“I remember one of them shouting at him to ‘come outside, come outside’. They surrounded Cody, one headbutted him.”

Asked by prosecutor Michael Duck KC what was the first thing he had seen, Mr Vann told the court: “The headbutt. It was a heavy blow. It landed between his nose and his mouth.”

The witness said he then saw a punch aimed at Mr Fisher, which was thrown wildly and led to him throwing punches in an effort to defend himself.

“They all started kicking and punching him then,” Mr Vann added. “I was only one to two feet away from him, still very close. I tried to pull Cody out of there.”

Mr Vann said he was kicked and punched himself as Mr Fisher fell backwards.

Telling the court he then went to the ground as well, Mr Vann said: “I just had my hands and arms over my face trying to protect my head.”

After managing to jump to his feet and run behind a bar, as instructed by a member of staff, Mr Vann said, he only realised Mr Fisher had been hurt when a friend walked past and told him.

He then saw Mr Fisher’s girlfriend “screaming and crying her eyes out” and tried to comfort her, the court heard.

Gordon, of Cofton Park Drive, Birmingham, and Carpenter and Anderson, both of no fixed address, also deny a charge of affray. Mr Fisher died at the scene.

Mobile phone footage of Mr Fisher lying on the floor after he was stabbed in the chest and leg was shown to the court earlier in the trial, as well as further film which captured part of the attack on Mr Vann.

The trial continues.