The teammate of a Masterton man who stands accused of beating a friend so badly he passed out has described seeing a "wild look" in his teammate's eyes shortly after the alleged assault.
Timothy Peter Fairbrother, 37, the owner of Masterton business Rival Wealth, wason trial in the Masterton District Court on Wednesday for allegedly beating friend and teammate Troy Sayer unconscious on November 22 at a Whareama bach.
During the first day of the two-day trial, the court and a packed public gallery heard from Marcus Johnston, whose family own the bach, and who had spent the day drinking with Fairbrother, Mr Sayer and other team members, celebrating their indoor cricket win.
Mr Johnston said he had not seen the alleged assault but saw Fairbrother afterwards looking angry with "a wild look in his eye".
There was blood around Fairbrother's eyes but no marks or injuries on his face, he said. There had been a "minor altercation" earlier that day between Mr Sayer and Fairbrother during which he had had to restrain Fairbrother, Mr Johnston said.
"There was a lot of movement but not a lot of substance . . . that was why we thought nothing was really going to happen from it because it was really quite tame."
Earlier, the court heard the group had brought 14 dozen beer and four bottles of spirits on the overnight trip and had started drinking at about 9am. Another witness, Glen Schofer, described finding Mr Sayer on the deck after the alleged assault.
"It was quite late in the evening and some of the guys had gone to bed. I went out to the toilet and I heard some sound - a whimper or someone calling for help . . . [Sayer was] sitting in the corner of what was like the deck with blood coming from his eye and his eye was swollen."
"He was sitting down with his knees crouched and he had his hands up protecting his face." Mr Schofer said he did not see any punches thrown but saw Fairbrother standing over Mr Sayer, possibly holding onto Mr Sayer's shirt.
Fairbrother had apologised to Mr Sayer later that evening, Mr Schofer said.
Mr Sayer was the first to give evidence on Wednesday, saying he and Fairbrother had been good friends and had been on overseas trips together.
Mr Sayer's wife had been Fairbrother's accountant but Fairbrother had become angry with her after her company had sought a business risk review from another firm, Mr Sayer said. He believed his wife had been bullied by Fairbrother, who had threatened to change accountants, he said.
"The emails that were sent were unprofessional and bullying and brought my wife to tears." He had approached Fairbrother during the day to raise the issue with him, but Fairbrother had been reluctant to discuss it, he said.
Later that day, after an altercation in the kitchen, he had become upset by the situation and had gone outside. Fairbrother had followed him out, saying, "Who has been gutless now?", grabbing his arm, flipping him around and punching him in the face several times until he passed out and landed on the deck, Mr Sayer said.
During cross-examination by defence counsel Gary Turkington, Mr Sayer agreed he had called Fairbrother "gutless" during a conversation that afternoon but denied calling him a "gutless c***" or flicking Fairbrother's cap so it fell to the ground several times, or later threatening to kill Fairbrother.
Mr Sayer confirmed there had been a sculling competition where "awards" were given out.
"By this stage you were all well on the way - everybody was pretty well liquored-up including yourself," Mr Turkington said. Mr Sayer denied starting the fight by lunging toward Fairbrother and grabbing his throat, saying, "I've never thrown a punch in my life".
When asked by Ms Lawrence to rate his level of inebriation, with 10 being about to pass out and one being a little tipsy, Mr Sayer said he believed he was about a "six" and Fairbrother was about an "eight".
The court was shown a DVD interview between Fairbrother and the officer in charge of the case, Sergeant Jennifer Nelley, during which Fairbrother said Mr Sayer had been the instigator, showing hostility and aggression to him, beginning with a two-hour argument about Fairbrother's behaviour to Mr Sayer's wife and culminating in a fight later that night.
"I went to walk past him and he turned to face me and I said, 'What's the story? You said you were going to kill me', and that's when he lunged at me.
"He grabbed me by the throat and he was coming at me and I struck out with my right hand."
Fairbrother said he punched Mr Sayer about four times, landing "a couple of lucky blows" and Mr Sayer did not lose consciousness.
When asked by Mrs Nelley how much he had drunk that day, Fairbrother had said he had had about seven or eight beers and seven or eight bourbons.
At the close of the prosecution's case, Mr Turkington submitted to Judge Bill Hastings there was no case to answer due to three "unsatisfactory" elements of the case: Mr Sayer's partial recall of the alleged assault, the failure of witnesses to corroborate Mr Sayer's statement that he crawled away from Fairbrother, and a photo of a cut to Mr Sayer's hand had been submitted as evidence although the injury had been sustained before the alleged assault.
Judge Hastings disagreed, saying while the witnesses' recollections had been affected by intoxication, there was still sufficient evidence of an assault to be answered and to his mind the issue of self-defence was "still alive".
The second day of the trial is scheduled for November 17.