Not guilty verdict in rugby club case

A jury has found a man not guilty of manslaughter in relation to a death at an Invercargill rugby club last year.

Nathan Graeme Hall had denied the charge which related to an event on February 10 last year.

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.

The trial at the HIgh Court in Invercargill began on Monday before Justice David Gendall, with the Crown calling 29 witnesses.

After about two and a-half hours of deliberation today, a jury found Mr Hall not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Rikki 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 was told that shortly after this, Mr Henwood ended up on the floor.

The Crown said the defendant had responded to Henwood because he wanted to, not because he was under a threat.

But defence council Roger Eagles said his client's action could be described as ''self-defence'' and he 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 was "under attack.'' 

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