Micevic found innocent in Hooke~~s murder case

Published: Monday, September 12, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne:A bouncer charged with killing former Australian cricket star David Hookes with a deadly punch outside a Melbourne pub was found not guilty.

Zdravko Micevic was charged with manslaughter after hitting Hookes during an altercation outside the pub in January 2004.

Hookes, a 48-year-old former Test cricketer who was coaching the Victoria state first class team, fell backwards after the punch and hit his head on the road, fracturing his skull. He died in hospital a day after the incident.

Following five days of deliberations, a supreme court jury of six men and six women found Micevic, 23, not guilty of killing Hookes.

Outside the court Micevic Monday said he was "very relieved" by the verdict.

"I'm glad it's all over; I can get on with my life," he said.

The defense claimed during the trial that Micevic hit Hookes in self-defense during an altercation that erupted after the cricketer and his friends were ejected from the pub, where they had been celebrating a match victory.

Defense lawyers told the court Hookes and his friends acted aggressively when told to leave the pub at closing time and that the coach was forcibly ejected from the building by security guards.

Prosecutors said the bouncer, a former amateur boxer, had targeted the outspoken cricketer in retaliation for abusive comments Hookes made earlier in the night.

The trial opened on August 22.

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