Defendant Anton Smith and his wife outside the Gladstone District Courthouse.
Defendant Anton Smith and his wife outside the Gladstone District Courthouse. Luka Kauzlaric

Doctor explains extent of injuries from alleged king-hit

A JURY has heard the full extent of brain injuries suffered by king-hit victim Justin Whitfield, as his doctor gave expert evidence in Gladstone District Court on Tuesday.

Brisbane neurosurgical registrar Dr Syed Zaheer, who treated Mr Whitfield on December 24, 2011, confirmed Mr Whitfield's significant brain injuries suffered were consistent with a king-hit.

The treatment followed a Christmas Eve fight outside the Reef Hotel, and defendant Anton James Tamatia Smith is charged with grievous bodily harm over the incident.

Dr Zaheer said while it was possible one of the other two punches thrown by Smith could have done the damage, the king-hit and then Mr Whitfield's head striking the ground were the most likely cause.

Crown Prosecutor Susan Hedge and defence barrister David Murray both closed their cases late Tuesday.

Ms Hedge argued that it was clearly a possibility that punching somebody on a hard surface could result in the victim falling backwards and suffering a brain injury.

"We all know one punch can kill," Ms Hedge said.

The Crown Prosecutor also argued that the defence of self-defence was not applicable to Smith, as she suggested the jury would find the force used in the punch could cause grievous bodily harm.

Defence Barrister David Murray brought up the law surrounding pre-emptive strikes and said the law did not require a man to turn and run away when threatened.

"The law recognises that you don't have to wait until you're assaulted before you try and defend yourself," he said.

The jury will retire to deliberate on Wednesday over whether Anton Smith was guilty of unlawfully causing grievous bodily harm to Justin Whitfield in the early hours of Christmas Eve, 2011.

Trial so far:

  • Anton Smith, 32, on trial for causing grievous bodily harm to Justin Whitfield
  • Crown claim excessive force used
  • Jury will begin deliberating Wednesday after Judge Paul Smith delivers his summary

UPDATE TUESDAY 10.30AM: The prosecution has called all its witnesses in the case against Anton James Tamatia Smith, who is charged with grievous bodily harm after an incident outside the Reef Hotel in 2011.

Expert evidence from Dr Syed Zaheer about the extent of brain injuries suffered by Justin Whitfield wrapped up the prosecution case in Gladstone District Court on Tuesday morning.

Defence barrister David Murray will now weigh up whether Mr Smith will take the stand.

If not, then both sides will close their cases, and the jury could begin deliberations as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier: "Suspect? I did it." The admission came from Anton James Tamatia Smith, just after he had told arresting officer Adam Marre that he was defending himself.

Police prosecutor Marre told Gladstone District Court on Monday what Smith said to him in that interview.

"You would've done the same thing - he threatened my kids, do you have kids?" prosecutor Marre said.

The man Smith referred to was Justin Whitfield, 34.

Smith was arrested in the early hours of December 24, 2011, after witnesses described seeing him king-hit Whitfield outside the Reef Hotel, then punching him in the head as he lay motionless in the gutter.

A recorded interview conducted later on December 24, between Detective Sergeant Bradley Doyle and Anton Smith, was played to the jury on Monday.

In the interview, Smith was told the victim of the attack had been transferred to Brisbane for emergency brain surgery.

"You serious?" the court heard Smith ask Det Sgt Doyle on the recording, when told of the condition of Mr Whitfield.

The court also heard from witness Christopher Stacey Monday, who denied Smith's claim that Mr Whitfield had a broken bottle in his hand.

But the defence barrister noted some differences in the statement Mr Stacey gave police immediately after the incident, and the evidence given Monday.

However, those differences did not relate to the broken bottle.

Smith's counsel will rely on other eyewitness accounts which recall Mr Whitfield clutching a broken bottle at the time of the attack.

Another witness, Matthew March, described seeing Mr Whitfield "flying through the air," before he hit his head on the gutter, as a result of the punch thrown, knocking him unconscious.

"He was out, he wasn't getting up, he was literally snoring," Mr March said. "He got hit very, very hard, he got drilled."

Mr March also said that Mr Whitfield had been acting in an aggressive manner prior to being king-hit.

During cross examination, Mr March said he could not see a bottle in Mr Whitfield's hand, but he did hear Mr Whitfield smash the bottle, prior to any punch being thrown.

The crown case will be finalised with expert medical evidence Tuesday morning.

Snr Const Shane James, acting sergeant at the time, could not confirm whether glass was found in the gutter near Whitfield at the alleged crime scene during a search conducted after the attack.