A Westport publican was knocked out, his nephew suffered a broken jaw and a friend was badly bruised after the publican ejected a patron from Westport's Criterion Hotel early yesterday morning.

"There was a bit of a scuffle inside and I put one patron on the street," publican Glen Elley said today. "There was another one standing out there which I won't have in my property.

"This other one I put out said 'oh well, I'm going back in'.

"I said 'no you're not, you've just been in an altercation you're not coming back in'.

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"Then he spat the dummy and that's the last I can remember."

Mr Elley has no idea who king-hit him. He was told later that several men in their 20s kicked him as he lay unconscious on the footpath.

His bar manager cried for help. His nephew Reuben Elley and a friend Javorn Walter - both aged in their early 20s - responded.

When Mr Elley came to 10 minutes later, Reuben Elley was nursing a broken jaw and Mr Walter was badly bruised around his head.

The alleged assailants had scarpered, but Glen Elley believes he knows who they are. He hopes CCTV footage and witnesses will confirm it.

He was taken to Buller Hospital where he spent a couple of hours under observation. "I've only got a big lump on the back of my head and a bad looking eye, and sore bones."

Reuben Elley was sent to Christchurch Public Hospital.

"He went into surgery this morning, poor little fella. He'll be 12 weeks' sucking through a straw."

Glen Elley said about 60 people were having a good time in his bar when the scuffle broke out around 2am.

About 20 minutes earlier he had stopped an altercation outside Work and Income, a few metres from his hotel on Westport's main street.

He said one person - who he believed was a woman - was on the ground when he intervened.

"I had to stand over a person while these other people - I don't know what they were trying to do, but what I saw I didn't like.

"I went and stood over this person and told everyone else to get away."

He believes some of those involved were among the subsequent troublemakers. He said they were with a group of patrons who had been shuttling between the Criterion and the nearby Black & White Hotel all night.

Yesterday morning was the first time in about 30 years as a publican that he had been knocked out. "I've never had anything broken but I've been belted a few times over the years."

He didn't close the Criterion immediately afterwards yesterday because so many people pouring on to Palmerston Street at once could have caused chaos, he said.

No charges yet

Police area response manager Sergeant Brent Cook said police enquiries were continuing to establish exactly what happened and CCTV footage was being reviewed.

"At this stage no charges have been laid."

Mr Cook said police were called to an altercation between about eight to 10 people at the Criterion in the early hours of yesterday morning.

He said two people had been asked to leave the hotel as they were intoxicated. A fight then broke out which spilled onto the street.

When police arrived, those fighting dispersed. One person was concussed and another suffered a broken jaw as a result of the fight, Mr Cook said.
Anyone who witnessed the fight or had information about it should contact Westport police on 789 7339 or the anonymous line Crime Stoppers on
0800 555 111.

- Westport News