Footballer Jordan Sinnott was killed after agreeing one of his alleged attackers was “fat and ginger”, a court heard.
The Matlock Town FC midfielder, 25, died in hospital after suffering a fractured skull and brain damage in an assault in Retford, Nottinghamshire, on a night out in January.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how one his alleged attackers, Kai Denovan, “flew immediately into a rage” after the footballer joined in with the defendant’s “self-deprecating humour”.
Denovan, 22, followed Mr Sinnott and his two friends into The Vine pub before telling him he was a “good-looking lad” and would have no trouble “pulling girls” – unlike him, who was “fat and ginger”.
“Yes I can see that,” Mr Sinnott replied, which the prosecution argued provoked the defendant’s alleged behaviour.
Denovan’s co-defendant Cameron Matthews pleaded guilty to manslaughter at an earlier hearing and admitted he was the one who administered the fatal punch.
Matthews, 21, hit Mr Sinnott “two or three times” after the violence spilled out into the street outside the pub.
The court heard how Matthews took over from Denovan – who was “plainly hell-bent on trouble” – and allegedly punched Mr Sinnott twice in the face while inside the pub.
Sean Nicholson, 22, admitted affray in connection with the same incident.
Prosecutor Michael Auty QC said Mr Sinnott was willing to apologise for causing offence but said Denovan, Matthews and Nicholson were a “pack hunting down and exacting retribution”.
Opening the case against Denovan, Mr Auty said: “As deaths go, it was about as senseless, avoidable and devastating as perhaps it was possible to be.
“He died, in fact, as a direct consequence of blows struck by Cameron Matthews, not by Mr Denovan.
“However, you will all readily understand that those who knowingly assist or encourage… are liable too.”
He continued: “Whilst he did not know Jordan Sinnott… Kai Denovan followed rapidly behind him and made a comment to Jordan Sinnott that he was a ‘good looking lad’ and would have no difficulty ‘pulling girls’, unlike him who, he volunteered, was ‘fat and ginger’.
“What the true purpose of the remark was, only Kai Denovan knows. It’s hard to imagine how anyone might sensibly have replied.”
The prosecutor described Denovan’s comment as a “deliberate honey trap”.
He continued: “In the end, Jordan Sinnott chose to say words to the effect of, ‘yes, I can see that,’ no doubt thinking he was simply joining in with what appeared to be self-deprecating humour.”
He said Denovan flew immediately into a rage, which was “contrived and entirely of his own making”.
Mr Auty said that after Denovan allegedly punched Mr Sinnott twice, the footballer and his friends left the pub to buy food.
He said: “Denovan, having contrived a situation inside, and then erupted into violence when there was no need whatsoever, continued to lead the charge.
“It is Denovan who is driving the exit from The Vine and deliberately pursuing Jordan Sinnott and his friends outside.
He added that Denovan was “desperately seeking” trouble.
Denovan, from Retford, denies manslaughter, affray and common assault.
The trial continues.