One punch victim's injuries consistent with pavement hit: court

A doctor who treated Allan Neilson in hospital the night he was allegedly punched in the face by his cousin has told a court his patient’s injuries were consistent with his head having hit a pavement with force, a court has heard.

Jason Alfred Cavanough has pleaded not guilty to a charge of manslaughter relating to allegations he punched Mr Neilson in an angry outburst outside the Emerald Chinese Restaurant, Woonona, on the evening of January 25, 2012. Mr Neilson fell to the ground and hit his head on the pavement. He died in hospital five months later.

Dr Ataur Rahman, who was working in Wollongong Hospital’s emergency department that night, said he remembered Mr Neilson being brought in by paramedics. He had a large amount of swelling around his eyes and haemorrhaging to two areas of the brain.

‘‘Were his injuries consistent with him having fallen backwards and struck his head on the footpath?’’ Crown prosecutor Michael Fox asked Dr Rahman.

‘‘Yes, I believe so,’’ Dr Rahman replied.

Dr Rahman said when he asked Mr Neilson’s wife, Doree, what had happened, she told him her husband had been engaged in a debate with Mr Cavanough, and then she saw him on the ground.

However, she said she did not see how he fell, and told Dr Rahman she did not know whether it was because he was pushed or assaulted, or whether he tripped.

The court heard Mr Neilson had consumed a large amount of alcohol during the evening and the footpath out the front of the restaurant was slippery when it rained, as it had that night.

Meantime, in earlier evidence in the trial, jurors heard from Wollongong general practitioner Michele McGrath, who was driving past at the time Mr Neilson was hurt and stopped to render assistance.

Dr McGrath said there was significant trauma to Mr Neilson’s face, including an obvious fracture in the nasal area.

The prosecution alleges Cavanough punched Mr Neilson in the face, causing him to fall to the ground and hit his head.

However, defence lawyers claim Cavanough only pushed Mr Neilson and did not intend for him to fall over.

The trial continues.

Clarification: Although Cavanough referred to Mr Neilson as ‘‘uncle’’, the two men were second cousins.