MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A British man has been cleared of assaulting the former captain of Australia’s rugby sevens team during a night out in Sydney.
Sam Oliver, 23, was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm by New South Wales police in March after clashing with James Stannard outside a fast food outlet.
Stannard suffered a fractured skull in the incident and was treated in hospital. He was subsequently ruled out of the sevens tournament at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and later retired.
Oliver, who said he had struck Stannard in self-defence, was found not guilty at the Downing Centre court in Sydney on Wednesday after a three-day hearing.
“I have come to the view that I’m not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this very serious charge can be made out,” magistrate Richard Funston told the court.
Funston noted that Oliver had also incurred facial injuries during the altercation.
“Nothing good happens after 2 o’clock,” Oliver told reporters outside the court. “I’m pretty relieved. I need to let my mum know straight away. She’s worried sick.”
Stannard said he was disappointed with the decision.
“I feel like the truth didn’t come out in the hearing. There is no excuse for violence in this community and I don’t condone it.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)