The lawyer for a man charged with assaulting and injuring Jesse Ryder says the cricketer's head injury arose from a punch and a fall and was not a "Jesse hate crime".
Jonathan Eaton made his comment in the Christchurch District Court today as the uncle and nephew charged over the incident in Merivale early last Thursday made their first court appearance.
He was critical of media coverage of the incident, including alleged eyewitness accounts which had proved to be "wildly inaccurate".
Fairfax Media were also criticised in a court packed with media, for their publication of the men's names ahead of their initial court appearance where interim name suppression would have been considered.
Judge Gary MacAskill granted interim suppression to preserve the men's rights to a fair trial, while police inquiries were continuing and identification issues were still being investigated. It will prevent the media publishing or broadcasting photographs of the men unless the order is lifted.
He voiced his criticism when he refused TV3 the right to be heard in court on the issue of suppression. He said he was abrogating their right to be heard in a busy list court.
"I have to do my best with the situation that The Press has left us in today. If you are upset about that, complain to Fairfax Media," he told the TV3 reporter.
The uncle, a 37-year-old builder, faces a charge of injuring Ryder with reckless disregard for Ryder's safety, and a joint charge of assaulting him.
His nephew, 20, a carpet layer, of Christchurch, is charged with assaulting Ryder, as well as the joint charge of assault.
They were arrested at the weekend but have been on police bail pending their initial court appearances at the Nga Hau e Wha marae in Aranui today.
The older man owns a construction company in Christchurch. Both men have given the same address in Shirley as their residence at the time of their arrest.
Judge Gary MacAskill remanded them on bail to April 18 and imposed restrictions on consuming alcohol or entering licensed premises.
They are banned from contacting Ryder or witnesses.
Ryder, who received head injuries in the alleged assault, was admitted to Christchurch Hospital in critical condition and placed in an induced coma.
He has now been released from hospital and has returned home to Wellington.
Eaton said the charge of injuring with reckless disregard meant the police were alleging there had been no "intentional infliction of injury".
"The eye witness accounts are wildly inaccurate and misleading," he said.
It was clear from the police investigation that there had been a dispute which had escalated, rather than an unexpected attack. He denied that the incident had been a "Jesse hate crime".
The men had been out at a family dinner when the chance meeting had occurred.
It had started out convivially, and drinks were shared before the incident.
Nobody else was being considered in spite of media reports that four men had been involved.
Ryder had not received a fractured skull, but his injury was described as a serious concussion. He had not had a collapsed lung, as reported.
It was alleged that he had received his injuries when he had been punched once and had fallen to the ground. This had allegedly happened after a fight.
"It goes to show why the justice system and public demand that these matters be dealt with in court before a judge and a jury and not by the media in the court of public opinion."
Judge MacAskill said the media application to be heard on the subject of suppression could be heard on a later court appearance.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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