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Briton accused of punching ex-Rugby Sevens captain ‘acted in self-defence’

Sam Oliver denies the charge.

The British man accused of a one-punch attack on a former captain of Australia’s Rugby Sevens team told police he was acting in self-defence, a court heard.

Sam Oliver, 23, is accused of flooring James Stannard with a “king hit” – Australian slang for a single punch – outside a kebab shop in Sydney in the early hours of March 30.

The 35-year-old player struck the pavement and suffered a fractured skull, spending two nights in hospital. He was unable to compete at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.

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Sam Oliver leaving Sydney’s Downing Centre where he is accused of flooring the former captain of Australia’s Rugby Sevens team (Ellie Cullen/PA)

Oliver, from Newcastle, has denied recklessly causing grievous bodily harm and the alternative charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

His lawyer alleges that Mr Stannard launched an expletive-ridden “verbal attack” on Oliver in which he called the Briton a “pommy c***”, and threw the first punch, leaving his client with a black eye.

On the second day of a hearing at Sydney’s Downing Centre on Tuesday, the court was shown footage from a police officer’s body-worn video camera, taken shortly after the incident in the suburb of Coogee.

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The Erciyes kebab shop in Coogee, Sydney, where the incident took place (Alex Britton/PA)

In it, Oliver can be heard answering questions about what had happened, telling the officer: “I defended myself, that’s all it was.”

The Briton is heard saying that there had been an “argument”, adding that he had been hit in his left eye.

The court was also shown footage of a police interview later that morning, in which Oliver told officers he had punched Mr Stannard in “self-protection”.

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Mr Stannard had been out with teammates at the Coogee Bay Hotel (Alex Britton/PA)

Paramedic Acacia Vormister told the hearing that she had seen Oliver with “very recent bruising” around his eye, and that the Briton had “denied the king hit” when she spoke to him.

She said: “He said that there was a fight but denied the king hit.”

Mr Stannard, who announced his retirement from rugby in June, previously denied having a “degree of dislike for Englishmen”, and said his last memory before waking up in hospital was of the band finishing playing at the Coogee Bay Hotel.

He had spent part of the evening at the venue with teammates and friends and left at about 3am.

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The trial is being held at the Downing Centre court in Sydney (Alex Britton/PA)

On Monday, prosecutor Burton Ko told the court that a group of people had congregated outside the Erciyes kebab shop, and that a witness had seen two men “arguing” on the footpath.

Mr Ko said: “He saw what he describes as a blonde man – which the crown says was the accused – take three quick steps towards the bald man and king hit him.

“The prosecution says that James Stannard fell to the ground, cracked his head on the concrete footpath, he lost consciousness and started bleeding from his right ear.”

The prosecution says there was only one hit – by Oliver.

Following the incident, Oliver ran off and was chased by some of Mr Stannard’s friends, the court heard.

The hearing continues.

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