Cricketer Hookes threw the first punch, court told

Published: Monday, November 15, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:Former Australian Test cricketer David Hookes threw the first punch in a fight which led to his death, a court heard.

During testimony on Monday by Test batsman Darren Lehmann, a lawyer for accused pub bouncer Zdravko Micevic said his client would testify that Hookes threw two punches at him before Micevic landed a blow.

Hookes, 48, died at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital on January 19 after he fell and hit his head on the ground outside the Beaconsfield Hotel in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda.

Micevic, 22, is charged with manslaughter and assault over the former Test batsman's death.

Lehmann told the committal hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court he either had not seen the incidents described or could not recall what was said or done.

He said he did not believe Hookes had drunk too much and asked if Hookes had been argumentative with hotel staff, he replied that he could not remember.

Although Lehmann said he had telephoned for an ambulance, he said he had not seen how Hookes ended up on the ground or what he had been doing before.

Lehmann also denied he had collaborated with others before making a statement to police or that he had "sanitised" his evidence.

The cricketer said he had only had three beers and a vodka during the two-and-a-half hours at the pub but admitted he had had another three beers before arriving there.

The party had gone to the hotel, in the suburb of St Kilda, after an inter-state match.

Micevic's lawyer Terry Forrest said witnesses would testify that the group of cricketers became rowdy when asked to leave at closing time and Hookes, in particular, argued with security staff.

One of the group is allaged to have told a bouncer that his head would "roll tomorrow" and "you won't have a job."

A witness who lives near the hotel would testify that he saw about 14 people pushing and shoving outside the hotel and five men surrouding two security guards on the footpath outside his house, Forrest said.

The court heard that Hookes had a blood alcohol level of 0.14 at the time of his death.

Forrest said his client had received numerous death threats, his family home had been burned down and his car vandalised. The hotel where the incident took place has been vandalised and has closed down.

Hookes played 23 Tests for Australia between 1977 and 1985 and went on to coach the Victoria state team. The hearing continues on Tuesday and is expected to take more than a week.

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