Accused forced to protect himself: court told

AN accused who punched a man causing his skull to crack at a Launceston pub told bystanders "shit happens", a court has heard.

Gregory John Winch, 46, of Riverside, has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm on the basis of self-defence.

Craig Dennien suffered three base fractures to his skull, bleeding of the brain, memory problems and the loss of smell after being hit by Mr Winch at the All Year Round Tavern in April last year.

Crown prosecutor Virginia Jones said Mr Winch punched Mr Dennien to the head causing him to fall and hit his head on the concrete after an argument.

Defence counsel Mark Doyle did not dispute the hit or the injuries it caused but said Mr Winch had been forced to defend himself.

"He did what was necessary to protect himself and the law allows every one of us to do just that," he said.

The court heard tempers flared between the two men after Mr Dennien's wallet was taken off the bar without his knowledge by a friend before being returned.

Mr Dennien said the accused later became upset after thinking Mr Dennien had accused him of being a thief.

A shouting match ensued on the pub's smoking deck before the men were separated by another patron.

Adam Murfett told the jury that the duo were talking quietly before they both stood up and "Winchy" punched Mr Dennien.

"I heard Craig's face going smack," he said.

"He fell straight back, hit his head on a chair coming down and on the concrete."

The witness returned to the deck after going inside to tell staff.

"I heard (Mr Winch) say `shit happens'," he said.

Witness Raquel Moore arrived at the pub just before the incident.

She told the jury that after Mr Dennien stood up, the accused moved towards him and threw a punch.

"(It made) an awful sound like bamboo cracking," she said.

However, Mr Doyle said it was Mr Dennien who was the aggressor on the night.

He said the combination of alcohol, the wallet incident and just learning a friend had died that day at Bell Bay "meant that you were upset and in fact a little bit angry".

Mr Dennien said he was upset but denied any animosity arising over the wallet.

"You were angry and aggressive towards Mr Winch," Mr Doyle said.

"No, I wasn't," Mr Dennien replied.

Mr Dennien denied taking steps towards Mr Winch on the smoking deck with his arms raised.

Mr Doyle asked if he had a reputation for being aggressive when drinking alcohol.

"Not that I am aware," he said.

However, Mr Dennien admitted being barred from two pubs in the past, including the All Year Round Tavern due to his behaviour. He denied it was due to being aggressive.

The trial continues today before Justice Robert Pearce in the Supreme Court in Launceston.pbillings@examiner.com.au

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