Judge dismisses charge against Auckland bus driver

An Auckland bus driver has had a charge of wounding another bus driver with a single punch at a Wellington hotel dismissed.

Wellington District Court judge Peter Butler took the unusual step of removing the case from the care of a jury and discharging Afele Talitua saying he had two complete defences to the charge.

Mr Talitua, 36, of Auckland, has pleaded not guilty to wounding Brett Dunn with intent to injure him on August 14, 2011.

The pair had been at an annual netball and rugby tournament between Wellington and Auckland bus drivers.  They had been staying at the Intercontinental.  

During an argument Mr Talitua punched Mr Dunn.

During the trial evidence had emerged that Mr Dunn was drunk, described as bossy by witnesses and had taken off his glasses and stormed up to Mr Talitua and punched him first, the judge said.

Judge Butler told the jury that it was not disputed that Mr Dunn then fell and that the injuries he suffered, a skull fracture and a brain bleed, came when his head hit the ground.

It was also likely Mr Dunn had made the injuries worse when he fell a short time later, hitting his head again on a wall.

The judge said Mr Talitua reacted instantly when punched, punching back and without any intent to cause the injuries Mr Dunn suffered which gave him one defence.

He said he also thought it was clear that Mr Talitua had a defence of self-defence.

Judge Butler discharged the jury and the charge against Mr Talitua.

The Dominion Post