West Coast rugby rep admits vicious assault

A representative West Coast rugby player kicked an unconscious Reefton man so hard that his head "whipped back" and rebounded off a pub wall, a Greymouth District Court jury has heard.

Crown prosecutor Marcus Zintl told the jury yesterday that the accused, Kevin Moore, had been drinking at the Inangahua Arms Hotel on July 3 last year after contesting a pool tournament at Wilsons Hotel earlier in the day.

His alleged victim, David Older, had also played in the pool tournament. Older was annoyed about a previous incident and made his way to a bar, where he attacked Moore while he was playing table tennis, punching him three times in the head.

Moore retaliated with six or seven punches to Older's head while holding him by the shirt. When he let go, Older, unconscious, fell to the floor, where Moore kicked him three times in the face with such force that his head "whipped back" and rebounded off the nearby wall, leaving him lying on the ground with blood running out of his mouth.

He also kicked Older in the stomach before the hotel owner, Murray Lee, restrained him and ordered him out of the bar. Moore told Mr Lee he knew what he had done was wrong, but that he had been punched first.

Moore also later admitted to his girlfriend that he had gone too far and that he felt bad about it. However, he said he had responded to being attacked by two men, had been punched, and needed to protect himself.

Older was taken by ambulance to Grey Base Hospital, before being transferred to Christchurch, where he underwent two operations to repair his jaw, which had been fractured in two places. He had titanium plates and screws inserted.

Older has since pleaded guilty to assault for his part in the fight.

Mr Zintl said the Crown would say that Moore was not acting in self-defence in punching and kicking his victim, as the force used was "gratuitous and excessive".

Crown witness Leonia Atkins had been at the hotel watching her cousin play pool and had seen the two men talking outside while they were both having a smoke. However, she heard Older telling Moore that he could say what he wanted, he was not getting involved.

Ms Atkins who, along with another woman held, Older's head up off the floor after he had been knocked out, to stop him choking on his own blood, said that after the fight Older regained consciousness, but all he could say was "I'm a fisherman".

Christchurch Hospital maxilliofacial surgeon Dr Christopher Lim, who operated on Older, said an "excessive" and "large amount" of force would have been needed to damage Older's jaw to such an extent.

Today mid-trial Moore pleaded guilty on the advice of the judge.

A date is yet to be set for sentencing.

- Greymouth Star

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