TWO young Portland men claimed yesterday they were assaulted after one of them asked a group of men for a cigarette.
Kayne Tonkins, 29, of Dougherties Road, pleaded not guilty in Warrnambool Magistrates Court to eight charges, including two counts of intentionally causing injury and recklessly causing injury and single charges of assault in company, riotous behaviour, unlawful assault and affray.
Ben Cruse told court that about 3am on May 13 last year he and a group of young men were walking north in Portland near Bentinck Street.
He said he had drunk between six and eight self-mixed scotch and cokes but was sobering up after going to a party.
Mr Cruse said a group of three men approached and he recognised Luke Mowatt, with whom he had previously played junior football. He said he started talking to a man he now knew to be Kayne Tonkins, but he couldn’t really understand him because Mr Tonkins seemed fairly drunk.
Mr Cruse said he tried walking around Mr Tonkins but the other man put a hand on his chest.
He said he saw Mr Mowatt arguing with one of his friends, Dylan Farmer, who Mr Mowatt picked up and threw on the ground.
“I tried to pull Dylan back and drag Luke off him. I just tried to break it up,” Mr Cruse said.
“I felt a punch to the back of my head. I was dragged by my shirt and jumper backwards. I turned around and it was Kayne.”
Mr Cruse said he told Mr Tonkins he didn’t want to fight, pushed off him and went to walk away.
“He started punching me to the back of the head,” he said.
“We started fighting. We were both swinging at each other.”
Mr Cruse said one of the other three men then punched him with both hands about 10 times.
Mr Cruse said he suffered soreness and bruising to his face, head and a shoulder, as well as a blood nose.
Mr Farmer said he had initially asked the group of three men if he could borrow a cigarette.
He said Mr Tonkins grabbed his arm twice and swung him around, saying he didn’t smoke.
“He got in my face. I said ‘sorry mate’ and tried to walk away. He shoved me to the chest,” Mr Farmer said.
Mr Farmer said he was slapped twice across the face before punches were exchanged and then he was spear tackled.
“I had Kayne and the younger bloke punching me,” he said.
“I covered up, tried to protect my face. I stood up, I thought it was over. I copped a punch to the jaw and blacked out.”
A contested hearing before magistrate Jonathan Klestadt is expected to be completed today.