Casualty actor's attack on girlfriend 'caused by smoke drug'

9 June 2010

An actor who attacked his girlfriend and threw her naked into the street has been cleared after claiming an anti-smoking drug could have triggered his behaviour.

Casualty bit-part actor Nick Williams outside Blackfriars Crown Court, shortly before being sped away from court with a suspected stress induced heart attack Nicholas Williams admitted he was too drunk to remember the assault on actress Helen Millar but said it was possible that the mixture of alcohol with the Champix drug was to blame.

Mr Williams, a 33-year-old bit-part actor on Casualty, was charged with assault following the incident last August as Ms Millar celebrated her 26th birthday. The couple had been drinking with friends but she felt unwell and returned to their home in Islington, north London. When Mr Williams returned later, they rowed and he threw her out of the house while she was wearing just a towel after taking a shower.

After a neighbour helped Ms Millar get back in, he tried to smother her with a pillow and took her back to the bathroom where he rammed the shower head into her mouth. Eventually, Ms Millar – who won the Alan Bates acting award for most outstanding newcomer in 2006 – managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Although Champix has been linked to suicides, a Harley Street specialist called by the prosecution said such a reaction with booze ‘would be the first case in the world’. However, he refused to rule out the possiblity.

Judge Henry Blacksell denied prosecutors more time to find another expert witness, saying Mr Williams had waited months for his trial to start and he was formally acquitted. Shortly before the case at Blackfriars crown court was abandoned, Mr Williams was taken to hospital with a suspected stress-induced heart attack.

In 2008 the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency revealed that ten people had committed suicide after taking Champix, which reduces nicotine cravings. Maker Pfizer declined to comment.

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