Dover death acquittals still disappoint detective
TRUE COURT: Veteran Coast detective Daren Edwards is still disappointed by the decision of the jury which acquitted three men accused of killing popular Aussie Rules coach Wayne Dover.
Three men, Matthew John Hill and brothers Wade Leigh and Blake Nathan Goldsworthy, were originally charged with murder, but later committed to stand trial on the lesser charge of manslaughter, after Mr Dover's death.
But in September 2016, a Supreme Court jury found Wade Goldsworthy and Matthew Hill not guilty of manslaughter, while Blake Goldsworthy had earlier been acquitted when Justice Martin Burns found there was not enough evidence of Blake's involvement and he had no case to answer.
During the trial Mr Hill's lawyers suggested the floor outside The Factory nightclub had been slippery and Mr Hill had slipped over before he could assist Wade in self-defence and Mr Hill hadn't punched or kicked Mr Dover at all.
Mr Hill's lawyer argued Mr Dover suffered the fatal tear to his vertebral artery because he too had fallen.
Mr Dover, 45, suffered fractures to his right cheekbone and eye socket, as well as the tear to the artery in his neck.
The jury heard during the closing address from Mr Hill's barrister, Kila Pedder, that Mr Hill had been nowhere near Mr Dover when he appeared to fall to the ground in obscured CCTV footage.
The court heard Mr Dover had been very drunk and was a big man who may have fallen from the momentum of his own weight and collided with tables and chairs on his way down.
Wade Goldsworthy's defence barrister Simon Lewis said if any punch had been thrown it would've come from Mr Hill, in an effort to defend Mr Goldsworthy, who had allegedly been attacked by Mr Dover first.
A witness who had worked for Mr Dover and was speaking to him before the fight said Wade Goldsworthy had called Mr Dover a "sleaze" and Crown prosecutor Phil McCarthy said Wade had accused Mr Dover of groping women inside the nightclub.
The fight broke out soon after.
Mr Lewis said Mr Dover had attacked Wade Goldsworthy in an unprovoked assault and CCTV had shown Wade didn't make an "aggressive move".
Mr McCarthy said witnesses had heard two of the men yell out "you deserve what you got" as they left the scene and witnesses had seen Mr Hill and the Goldsworthy brothers punching Mr Dover when he was on the ground.
It was alleged Mr Hill had kicked Mr Dover, but there was no blood or any other DNA evidence on Mr Hill's shoes to prove it.
Wade Goldsworthy had told police Mr Dover punched him in the head, sparking the fight, and his lawyer, Simon Lewis, argued Wade had acted in self-defence.
The jury in the trial heard Wade had been surprised to learn Mr Dover had died.
Mr McCarthy argued Mr Dover's death was a foreseeable possible outcome of the fight, but Wade's defence barrister, Simon Lewis, argued Mr Dover's fatal injury had not been foreseeable.
Ultimately, the jury found there was not enough evidence to convict the two men.
Mr Dover's wife, Michelle, had been with him at the nightclub earlier in the night before heading home, leaving the front door open for him.
Mrs Dover said she understood how the jury had reached the verdict and she was comfortable with it.
She told the ABC after the acquittals she had not been out for revenge or to make anyone pay, and she hoped everyone learnt from it, adding her husband had been a "really good man".
Mr Hill proclaimed his innocence after the not-guilty verdicts were handed down, while Wade did not speak to media as he left a free man.
"That (what happened to Mr Dover) shouldn't be happening," Sen Sgt Edwards said.
"In 34 years, I've never seen anything like it (the decision)."