Manslaughter charge in rugby club death denied

A man on trial for manslaughter in relation to a death at an Invercargill rugby club denied the charge brought against him.

Nathan Graeme Hall appeared yesterday in the High Court at Invercargill and pleaded not guilty to a charge related to an event on February 10, 2018.

On that date, Chanel Lee Simmonds, also known as Chanel Henwood, died after he was allegedly assaulted at a party at the Marist Old Boys' Rugby Football Club.

Crown prosecutor Riki Donnelly said, in his opening address, Mr Henwood arrived at the 30th birthday party of the defendant's sister with her cousin.

Mr Donnelly said the trial would focus on an incident which happened near the dance floor when Mr Henwood allegedly made a comment ''to or about'' the defendant's partner.

The jury has heard that shortly after this, he ended up on the floor.

Mr Donnelly also said the evidence would suggest Mr Henwood received ''numerous punches'' and an autopsy report found he suffered a tear in a major artery which resulted in blood loss to the brain stem.

The Crown would call 30 witnesses during the trial, some of whom would describe Mr Henwood as intoxicated and ''creepy towards women'', Mr Donnelly said.

The defendant had not needed to assault Mr Henwood, the jury has been told.

Defence counsel Roger Eagles said his client's action could be described as ''self-defence'' and Hall behaved as ''any Kiwi men would behave in the same situation''.

Mr Eagles said Hall was confronted by a man ''affected by liquor'' and thought he would be attacked.

''He did not come into any direct contact with Henwood until he became aware that he spoke rudely with his partner.''

The defendant's sister and witness Lisa Hall said Henwood was acting in a disrespectful manner and ''targeting women'' in the party.

She invited him because her cousin said Henwood was ''having a rough time'' and she felt sorry for him.

The defendant's partner, Serena Pollard, said the only contact she ever had with Mr Henwood was when she told him not to smoke inside the party.

Mrs Pollard said Henwood allegedly said something to her, but she could not hear what it was.

Under cross-examination by counsel Katy Barker, she said Hall told her later he had hit Mr Henwood because ''he had no option''.

Another witness, Frances Lodge, said she heard three punches - ''one after the other'', but she could not see who had thrown them.

The trial, before Justice Gendall continues.

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