A man has described waking up in hospital with half of his face paralysed, unable to talk, and deaf in one ear after he was the victim of an alleged coward’s punch outside a northern suburbs tavern.
Paul Mitchell was at the Northshore Tavern with his former Whitford Warriors teammates after the side played a game of football in July 2017 when Andre Kevin Smith allegedly punched the 30-year-old during a brawl in the pub’s car park.
Mr Smith admits being involved in the fight but is on trial in the District Court to fight allegations he was the one that delivered the devastating blow.
Opening the State case today, prosecutor Alan Dungey said shortly before the fight broke out, Mr Mitchell was talking to two men – one with a face tattoo – and a woman about the West Coast Eagles.
Mr Dungey said two witnesses would give evidence that it was a man with a face tattoo – which Mr Smith has – that later punched Mr Mitchell in the face, causing him to fall backwards and crack his head on the concrete.
Mr Mitchell was left with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. Giving evidence today, Mr Mitchell said the only memory he had of the incident was being outside before waking up in hospital.
“I couldn’t talk,” he said.
“Half my face was paralysed. “I had a deaf ear.”
While he has recovered from his partial paralysis, Mr Mitchell said he now required a hearing aid for his right ear, had issues with balance, and said his memory was getting worse as time progressed.
Mr Dungey said when a witness, Michelle Woods, was questioned 10 months after the attack, she said she was with Mr Smith and her boyfriend – Mr Smith’s brother Kyle – speaking to a group outside about footy when someone reached for a high-five but missed and deliberately grabbed her buttocks.
He said the woman would say she told her boyfriend what had happened, which prompted the brothers to go outside.
The prosecutor said she would tell the jury she saw her boyfriend punch a man in the face.
Mr Dungey said he had a responsibly to call all of the relevant evidence but said the jury should prefer the evidence from the two men about the attacker having a face tattoo.
Defence lawyer Justine Fisher said there were more than 10 people involved in the brawl and said many of the witnesses had been drinking alcohol on the night and their memories may have been effected by the passage of time.
Ms Fisher said “it is the case that Mr Smith was one of the men involved” but “the live issue for you to determine is who is the offender?”
Mr Smith has pleaded not guilty to occasioning grievous bodily harm.
The trial continues.