A FATHER stopped breathing after a brawl outside a Southampton nightclub before dying in hospital days later, an inquest has heard.

Members of Jason Gregory’s family broke down in tears as they were told how he fell unconscious while being restrained by bouncers.

Several witnesses told Winchester Coroners' Court yesterday how they had the 44-year-old in a “choke hold” or “head lock” after a brawl broke out near the Junk nightclub shortly after midnight on May 6 2017.

As previously reported, Hampshire police launched a investigation into his death, with a 27-year-old man from Southampton being arrested on suspicion of murder, and a 44-year-old man from Southampton being arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm.

However, the investigation was dropped in July last year, with no criminal charges being brought against the pair.

The four-day inquest was shown CCTV footage of the fight breaking out and the brawl that followed, during which a number of Mr Gregory’s family left the court room.

It showed a number of people throwing punches, before bouncers rushed in. Not much of Mr Gregory could be seen due to the large number of people in the alleyway, known as Vernon Walk.

Mr Gregory’s son Rhys told the inquest family and friends had been saying goodbye to his sister Jaydene, who was about to leave for work abroad.

At around midnight, Rhys, his girlfriend and another friend were heading down the alleyway when a group of men shoved Rhys’ friend, sparking the fight.

Rhys said at some point his father arrived on the scene and was restrained by bouncers. A number of witnesses told the inquest they saw him being held in a “choke hold” or “head lock”, while friend Iain Crook said Mr Gregory was struggling as if “he was fighting for his life”.

Mr Crook did however say his impression at the time was the bouncers were “acting responsibly” until Mr Gregory lost consciousness, when he said: “No-one seemed to be helping Jason while he was on the floor. It was disgusting to watch.”

During the hearing barrister Oliver Campbell, representing Synergy Security, suggested bouncers had their arms around Mr Gregory’s chest rather than his neck, and questioned witnesses’ abilities to recall the incident. Friend Derhys Dunkley said the bouncer’s arms were “definitely around his neck”.

The inquest heard the key factor that led to Mr Gregory’s death was his heart stopping, which Home Office forensic pathologist Dr Basil Purdue said caused Mr Gregory, of Millers Pond Gardens, Sholing, to suffer irreversible brain damage.

Dr Purdue said there were a number of factors that contributed to Mr Gregory’s heart stopping, including the fact that he had taken cocaine earlier that night, making his heart susceptible to abnormal rhythms. He added due to the fight and struggle while being restrained, his heart would have been beating faster and he would have been pumped on adrenaline.

The inquest continues.