Horseplay fatal punch was 'self-defence'

Karen SweeneyAAP
A man on trial for manslaughter says he was acting in self-defence when he punched a man's head.
Camera IconA man on trial for manslaughter says he was acting in self-defence when he punched a man's head. Credit: AAP

Embarrassed after being winded during horseplay, a Victorian man says he was acting in self-defence when he punched a man's head, killing him.

John Durie had been playing pool with his alleged killer just moments before the punch, after an evening celebrating Wycheproof's annual golf day.

Dane McLennan, 26, is charged with manslaughter over the blow to Mr Durie's head in August 2019.

The father of two fell to the ground unconscious immediately after being struck and despite efforts to revive him he was declared dead later that night.

McLennan is standing trial in the Supreme Court, sitting with a jury in Shepparton because of Victoria's coronavirus restrictions.

Prosecutor Patrick Bourke QC said Mr Durie and McLennan had retired to the clubrooms with several others, including McLennan's father, after a tournament at the club northeast of Bendigo.

He said Mr Durie was known to engage in playful wrestling with mates, particularly after a few drinks but that it was consensual - "just horseplay, just mucking around".

He said at some point McLennan had struck in the stomach or groin and was winded, and became embarrassed that others might have seen.

"McLennan tells police embarrassment turned to anger pretty quickly and he just lashed out," he said.

"He didn't want to go down or get made a fool of, was how he described his feelings to police in the interview."

McLennan said he had punched Mr Durie's head to show he wasn't happy with what was going on.

McLennan's barrister Geoffrey Steward said it was also disputed that McLennan had acted unlawfully in striking Mr Durie.

"Regardless of whether you're angry or embarrassed you're still allowed to defend yourself," he said.

He also said it was possible Mr Durie had died from an aneurysm, unrelated to any force.

"It's not at all normal for a blow to the body to cause a hole in the internal carotid artery as is alleged here," he said, describing it as "exceedingly rare".

The trial is continuing.

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