'No option' but to fight, says accused

A man facing a manslaughter charge said he had "no option" but to fight with his alleged victim.

Nathan Graeme Hall denied the charge brought against him in relation to the February 10, 2018, incident, in which Chanel Lee Simmonds, also known as Chanel Henwood, died after he was allegedly assaulted at the Marist Old Boys' Rugby Football Club.

On the fourth day of Hall's trial at the High Court at Invercargill, the jury was played the police interview recording with Hall from February 11, 2018.

Hall said the incident started when he saw his partner Serina Pollard telling the victim not to smoke inside the clubrooms.

Hall said he saw Mr Henwood saying "some rough things to her", calling her a "slag", and allegedly using racist language.

Hall said Mr Henwood "switched" when he was told Mrs Pollard was his partner and he could not talk to her like that.

The defendant said Mr Henwood seemed to take offence at that comment.

Hall said the way he spoke to Mr Henwood was not aggressive and "he was not drunk", as he had had "only seven to eight beers".

"He started to yell: `Come on. Let's go. You and me. Let's go."

Both were holding a beer in their hands and Mr Henwood put down his beer first.

Hall said the tussle started and punches were thrown by both parties.

When asked by Detective Matthew Wyatt who threw the first punch, he said he did not know, but Mr Henwood "engaged him physically in the fight".

Hall also said only one of his punches connected with Mr Henwood's cheek.

"I'm not sure [how many punches Mr Henwood threw]. He was unco-ordinated and drunk."

The defendant said he had done nothing to provoke Mr Henwood and he had no option: "I think if I turned around, I would have had my head smacked."

He also described Mr Henwood as a "solid guy - pretty intimidating".

At the end of the interview, the defendant said he did not have time to think about the consequences because everything happened very quickly.

Crown prosecutor Riki Donnelly, in his final address, said Hall did not need to respond that way when he "was challenged by a drunk man".

He asked the jury to consider that all witnesses were Hall's friends or family.

Mr Donnelly said although the witnesses did not have a clear view of the incident, together they completed a picture of what happened.

None said they saw any connected punch from Mr Henwood, the jury has heard.

Defence council Roger Eagles said Hall "felt he was under attack."

He said his client was honest when he said he thought that Mr Henwood would fight him.

The trial continues.


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