Self defence claim in pool cue attack

Sickening footage of a man breaking a pool cue over the head of a patron at an Oak Flats pub  - knocking him out cold - was played in Wollongong Local Court on Monday.

Myles Morgan Southern had drunk up to 12 beers when he spat at a fellow patron following an argument over a beer.

The men, who had been drinking and playing pool at Oak Flat’s Lakeview Hotel on the evening of June 27, last year, fell out after they both claimed ownership of a beer left on a table.

Grainy CCTV footage captured the brief exchange of words that followed, including the moment the victim got to his feet to approach Southern.

Seconds later he was knocked out by a single blow to the head with a pool cue.

The force of the blow was so strong the pool cue broke in two and the man dropped to the ground, where he lay unresponsive for the duration of the footage.

The victim, who was heavily intoxicated at the time of the attack, has suffered from long-term memory loss, occasional blurred vision and restricted jaw movement since the attack.

The court heard he also requires plastic surgery to properly repair damage to his left ear.

Southern was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm following a local court hearing on Monday.

The 23-year-old claimed he attacked the man in self defence, fearful the drunk patron was going to ‘‘glass’’ him with the schooner in his hand.

‘‘I feared he was going to use it to throw it at me,’’ Southern said, giving evidence.

‘‘I’ve seen people get glassed before – I was in fear for my life and my safety.

‘‘I dunno if it was instinct but I was trying to defend myself.’’

Witnesses Sarah Bennett and Kane Thompson – who are also acquaintances of Southern’s – gave evidence that the victim was swaying, staggering and being aggressive to Southern in the lead-up to the attack.

When asked by defence barrister Melissa Humphreys what made the man seem aggressive, Mr Thompson said: ‘‘It was just the way he was sneering at Myles, you could just see there was going to be trouble when he stood up.

‘‘I thought Myles was  going to get hit by the glass.’’

However, police prosecutor Sergeant Leah Argent told the court Southern hadn’t acted like a man who was scared or intimidated.

‘‘You faced him and you spat, that’s not something you’d do if you were intimidated,’’ she said to Southern during cross-examination.

‘‘He never said one threatening word to you after standing.’’

Magistrate Susan McGowan agreed, finding him guilty of the offence.

‘‘It’s not an action of somebody not wanting to carry the argument on or somebody who was intimidated,’’ she said.

‘‘There were other options available to him [had he wanted to avoid conflict].’’

He will be sentenced on May 5.

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