Drinks with Ryder initially

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Star cricketer Jesse Ryder shared drinks with two men accused of attacking him moments before he was allegedly assaulted, a court was told yesterday.

Witness reports over the incident involving Ryder outside a Christchurch bar last week were "wildly inaccurate and misleading", a lawyer for one of the accused said. Reports of a "Jesse hate crime" were grossly inaccurate, the court was told.

The accused pair, aged 20 and 37, appeared in the dock at the Christchurch District Court at the post-quake temporary Nga Hau e Wha Marae venue yesterday.

They had been out for a family dinner when they bumped into the famous sportsman, said defence counsel Jonathan Eaton, appearing for the older man. A dispute had arisen after a meeting that had started out "highly convivial", with drinks being shared.

Both accused, from Christchurch, were granted interim name suppression.

The 37-year-old has been charged with assaulting Ryder and also injuring Ryder with reckless disregard for the safety of others.

The younger man is facing two charges of assault, one in connection with the older man.

Charge sheets say the older man is a builder while the other is a carpet layer. They live at the same city address. Both were well dressed yesterday, the older man wearing a tie, the other in a suit.

Ryder, 28, was punched and kicked outside Aikmans bar in Merivale, Christchurch, last Thursday after a season's-end night out with Wellington teammates.

He sustained head and lung injuries and spent two days in an induced coma at Christchurch Hospital. His manager Aaron Klee said Ryder was now recuperating at his Wellington home and recovering well.

But yesterday the court heard that witness reports the incident was unexpected and unprovoked were wrong.

Mr Eaton said Ryder did not sustain a fractured skull or collapsed lung in the attack.

A police summary of facts describes a fight and a short time later, one punch.

Mr Eaton said Ryder's injuries came as a consequence of falling to the ground, "after being punched once".

Mr Eaton and Adam Couchman, defence counsel for the younger man, asked for their clients to be given interim name and image suppression.

If the men had their photographs published it could jeopardise a fair trial, which Mr Eaton said hinged on "who is alleged to have done what".

Police prosecutor Sergeant Neil Williams agreed.

Judge MacAskill granted suppression and remanded the pair on bail, with conditions not to enter licensed premises between 7pm and 7am, not to drink alcohol, and not to associate with Ryder or witnesses, until April 18.

An argument over suppression would be held at a later date.

Police inquiries were ongoing, he said, and he had not been able to yet view closed-circuit TV footage of the alleged incident.

Outside court, Mr Eaton refused to elaborate on what was said inside court.

"Everyone has to understand that once charges have been laid there's only place that these issues are properly resolved, that's in the court, and that's where they will be resolved," he said. However, on behalf of his client he wished "Mr Ryder a very full and speedy recovery".

No one answered the door at Ryder's Kelson property in Lower Hutt yesterday.

Neighbours said they had not seen the cricket star since his return home.



- Hawkes Bay Today

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