Coughing fit led to elbow attack, court told

By Heather McCracken

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

A man has gone on trial accused of repeatedly elbowing his partner in the back when she wouldn't stop coughing in bed.

Matthew Crann, of Red Beach, north of Auckland, denies a charge of assaulting his former partner, Elizabeth Currie.

The case began before a jury in Manukau District Court this morning.

The Crown alleges Mr Crann elbowed Ms Currie several times in the back while they lay in bed on the morning of August 26, 2011.

Crown prosecutor Carl Mcdiarmid (EDS: CORRECT) said Ms Currie had the flu and when she kept coughing, Mr Crann became angry and shouted at her before elbowing her repeatedly.

Mr Mcdiarmid told the jury an assault was to touch someone intentionally without their consent, and didn't need to be hard or cause an injury.

"That's really the only question that you need to ask yourselves: Did the defendant strike Ms Currie?"

Ms Currie, a self-employed horse trainer, told the court she had been in a relationship with Mr Crann for two and a half years and had lived with him at their Clevedon house for about a year.

She woke up on August 26 feeling sick and was coughing. "Instead of being consoled by Matt I was told to 'shut the f*** up' and if I was going to continue to cough and make that noise at that time of the morning I should get the f*** out of the room."

Ms Currie said she began to cry, and Mr Crann then elbowed her five or six times in her spine as she lay on her side.

The blows were hard enough to "knock the wind out of me".

She said Mr Crann left the house soon afterwards, and when she returned later from making a statement to police, she found him loading belongings into a trailer.

Defence lawyer Russell Fairbrother QC said the incident never happened.

The defendant was a decent, hardworking man, who had a clean record save for a minor driving conviction, he said.

Mr Fairbrother raised contradictions in evidence over when the first police statement was taken, whether Ms Currie was struck hard enough to push her out of bed, and whether she was elbowed or punched.

Mr Crann told the court the relationship had broken down and he had planned to move out of their home on August 26.

Ms Currie had "a little bit of a cold" that morning but was sitting up in bed with her back against a pillow when he woke about 6am, he said.

He was not angry, but had become annoyed when Ms Currie "hounded" him about where he was going, and accepted he may have told her to shut up.

But he said he left the house for a 7am appointment without incident, and returned later to pack up some personal belongings.

Mr Crann denied elbowing her or hitting her on any occasion.

The trial continues.

- APNZ

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