Temuka death left unresolved

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 07:27 20/02/2014
crown hotel temuka
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ

UNEXPLAINED DEATH: A man likely died from a king-hit outside Temuka's Crown Hotel.

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A king-hit is likely to have taken the life of a Temuka man after a 2012 brawl outside a hotel.

An inquest was held into the death of Dale Robert Bellaney, 39, by coroner Richard McElrea in Timaru yesterday, with the question of who delivered the punch still unanswered.

Mr Bellaney died on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, having been involved in a fracas on the previous Saturday.

Detective Greg Harrison gave evidence at the inquest that police had formally completed their investigation.

"We are unable to identify who or what is responsible for the injuries received by Mr Bellaney that led to his death."

Mr Harrison said that on the afternoon of Saturday, November 3, 2012, Mr Bellaney was drinking at several Temuka bars.

One was the Crown Hotel, where two other separate groups were also socialising.

A fight occurred between the two groups, with one man kicking and punching another man until he fell to the ground, where he continued to kick him.

The groups went outside, including Mr Bellaney, and several fights broke out.

Three people were injured - a woman received superficial injuries, another man hit his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious, and Mr Bellaney was found lying on the street. He was conscious, but not fully coherent.

Police arrived, as did a St John ambulance. All three were taken to hospital, with the man getting staples to the back of his head to repair a large cut, while the woman was assessed and released.

Mr Bellaney's condition deteriorated once he reached Timaru Hospital and a scan revealed a brain bleed. He was transferred to Christchurch Hospital's intensive care unit on the Sunday, but died on the Tuesday.

All witnesses at the scene were interviewed, but none had seen Mr Bellaney being hit, or hitting the ground. He told the attending paramedic he had been hit, but did not say who was responsible.

Pathologist Marissa Feeney examined Mr Bellaney's body and found a fracture on the back right- side of his skull and a brain bleed.

"He had a number of bruises, a striking to the left side of the face in front of the ear, so he has likely been struck and fallen back and hit his head."

Mr Bellaney had a brain aneurism when he was 31, and had experienced ongoing medical issues since.

Mr McElrea asked if Mr Bellaney's medical history would have made him more susceptible.

"Anyone sustaining this sort of fall with enough force to fracture the skull could have the same result," she said.

Mr Bellaney's partner told police she did not like him drinking because "he became aggressive".

"We talked a lot about the fact if he took a hit to the head it could kill him. I didn't like him going to the pub when it was busy."

Mr McElrea reserved his findings.

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- The Timaru Herald

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