Scarborough man kills his cousin in one punch: court

A Scarborough man killed his cousin with a single punch to the head after getting into an argument over foul language in a Woonona restaurant, a court has heard.

Jason Alfred Cavanough is on trial in Wollongong District Court accused of punching his cousin, Allan Neilson, outside the Emerald Chinese Restaurant on the evening of January 25, 2012.

Mr Neilsen fell to the ground and hit his head on the pavement.

He died in hospital five months later.

Cavanough was originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm, however the charge was upgraded to manslaughter following Mr Neilson’s death.

During his opening address to the jury on Monday, Crown prosecutor Michael Fox said they would hear evidence that the two men had spent the afternoon drinking and playing the pokies at the Collegians club before they went to dinner with Mr Neilson’s wife and Cavanough’s family at the Chinese restaurant.

Mr Fox said the Crown would argue Cavanough became angry when he heard Mr Neilson swear in front of children at the restaurant, and demanded his cousin apologise.

The pair got into a heated argument about it outside the premises when they were leaving

Cavanough lashed out at Mr Neilson, hitting him in the face, Mr Fox said.

However, Cavanough’s lawyer, Jeff Tunks, said his client denied the Crown’s version of events.

‘‘Things aren’t always what they seem, things aren’t always as simple as they may first seem,’’ Mr Tunks said as he asked jurors to keep an open mind while hearing evidence from the expected 30witnesses.

Meantime, the wives of both Mr Neilson and Cavanough gave opposing evidence as they took the stand on Monday afternoon.

Doreen Neilson said her husband appeared to be pleasant during the course of the evening and only swore once at the restaurant – when Cavanough bought him another beer despite Mr Neilson saying he didn’t want one.

Mrs Neilson rejected suggestions from Mr Tunks that her husband was in a grouchy mood throughout the evening and had threatened to ‘‘knock his [Cavanough’s] block off’’ at one stage.

However, Lisa Cavanough described Mr Neilson’s behaviour that night as akin to ‘‘Jekyll and Hyde’’, saying she could hear him repeatedly swearing under his breath.

‘‘I assumed he was getting drunk,’’ she said.

The trial continues.