Sharks basketballers arrested over pub brawl

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 18:04 25/05/2014
New Plymouth sharks

WITNESSES SOUGHT: CCTV footage from the New Plymouth pub brawl.

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A New Plymouth bar manager has described an alleged attack involving Southland Sharks basketball players as the scariest thing he has ever experienced.

Crowded House duty manager Max O'Leary said three security staff suffered a variety of injuries in the alleged attack, which happened shortly after 2.30am today.

Three Southland Sharks basketball players have been arrested and charged with assault with intent to injure.

Police have revealed details of the alleged attack because they are calling for witnesses.

The three players, aged 19, 21 and 28, have been granted bail but must appear in the New Plymouth District Court on Wednesday. 

''It would be the most scariest thing I've seen in six and a half years working at Crowded House,'' O'Leary said.

The alleged attack is believed to have started after the players were denied entry into the bar because one of the group could not provide identification.

''It was an all-in brawl at the front of the bar,'' O'Leary said. ''We had five of our staff involved in it, plus a few others were trying to help. It was a cowardly attack, basically.'' 

One bouncer was ''king hit'' and knocked unconscious, another was allegedly kicked repeatedly in the head and another suffered cuts to his face.

O'Leary was also attacked and punched in the chest.

It took police only three or four minutes to arrive at the scene at which point the players fled up Devon St before they were arrested.

''By the time they [police] arrived most of them had run off,'' O'Leary said. ''They headed off towards the Devon Hotel, although a few of them were trying to hide in car parks. They were picked up because people knew who they were.''

Crowded House staff had been alerted to the fact that the Southland players had been denied entry to several other bars in the city.

The alleged incident took place just several hours after the Southland Sharks had defeated the Taranaki Mountain Airs after a last second basket in the National Basketball League match.

Although only three players have been charged, O'Leary alleged ''virtually the whole team'' got involved.

The incident is believed to have been caught on security cameras at the bar and on Devon St.

The Southland Sharks flew out of New Plymouth at 8am this morning.

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