MAN ADMITS HE HIT COACH AFTER GAME

A policeman told Griffith Court yesterday that a man had admitted striking Griffith football coach Ron O'Neill after a football match at Whitton.

Snr. Const. Raymond Hirst, of Whitton, said the man, Albert Thomas Fitzpatrick, 52, transport operator, of Darlington Point, when he took him to  see O'Neill in the dressing room said: "It was me that hit him."

Fitzpatrick is charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm against O'Neill at Whitton on May 5, 1968.

Mr. B. Hayes, S.M., adjourned the hearing until 11.15 today.

Const. Hirst, who was the first witness, said he went to the Whitton Sportsground on May 5 in response to a telephone call.

He approach the President of the Griffith Football Club, Mr. Pat Cudmore, and as a result went to the Griffith dressing shed where he saw O'Neill lying on his back on the dressing shed table.

Const. Hirst said he could see that O'Neill had deep lacerations below and above the right eye, swelling and bruising and his nose was out of shape.

He left the dressing shed in the company of Mr. Cudmore and went to the defendant, Mr. Fitzpatrick.

He said, "Did you assault Ron O'Neill and Fitzpatrick replied "Yes, I hit him."

"I said, What did you hit him with?" and he answered, "My fist."

Const. Hirst said he then took Fitzpatrick to the dressing shed and in the presence said to O'Neill, "Is this the man that assaulted you?"

O'Neill answered, I don't know. All that I can tell you is that it was a chap with a grey hat".

Const. Hirst: "The defendant said, "It was me who hit him all right".

Const. Hirst said he then informed Fitzpatrick that further action would be taken.

To Mr. Simon Mackenzie, for Fitzpatrick, Const. Hirst said he had not seen the incident.

Donald Bruce Best, painter, of Griffith, a member of the Griffith Australian Rules Football Club, to police prosecutor, Sgt. C. Evans said, he walked immediately behind O'Neill coming off the field.

Sgt. Evans: Do you know the defendant - Yes.

Did you see him as you were leaving the field - Yes.

Where was he? - On the right hand side of the runway into the dressing shed.

Did you see O'Neill going through the entrance? - Yes, Fitzpatrick was standing on the right hand side and hit O'Neill on the face with his right fist.

Did you see what sought of punch was it? - It was a clenched fist. It hit O'Neill on the right side of face.

What happened to O'Neill? - He went passed me for two steps and than fell flat on his back.

Mr. Mackenzie to Best: Was it a hard game - They're all hard games.

Best said in reply to Mr Mackenzie, that as far as he knew there was no difference in opinion between the Fitzpatrick brothers and other Griffith players.

Best said as far as he knew they went to Whitton from Griffith Club for business reasons.

Best said he could not recall whether one of the brothers had been seriously injured during the game.

Best said he did not know whether one of the Fitzpatrick brothers had been taken off the field during the game.

There had been a skirmish but he did not know what happened because he was up the other end of the field during the game.

Best said Fitzpatrick could have left the field during the last few minutes but he didn't know.

Robert Byrne, a doctor of Griffith, said he examined O'Neill at Griffith Hospital.

He said that he found that O'Neill was suffering from a laceration of the right eyebrow and cheek, bruising to the forehead and the right side of the nose, bleeding to the right nostril and a fissure fracture to the right nasal base.

Dr. Byrne in answer to Sgt. Evans said that he had placed approximately two stitches in each of the lacerations to O'Neill's right eyebrow and right cheek. He told O'Neill to stay off work for a week and from football for three weeks.

The Area News - July, 1968.

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