Pizza shop owner George Joseph Habkouk was defending his employee when he fatally punched a man outside a pub on New Year’s Day in 2018, a court has heard.
Pizza shop owner George Joseph Habkouk was defending his employee when he fatally punched a man outside a pub on New Year’s Day in 2018, a court has heard.

One-punch killer accused ‘defending employee’: Court

A NSW pizza shop owner says he fatally punched a man because the victim had just 'coat-hangered' his female employee outside a Central Coast pub.

George Joseph Habkouk pleaded not guilty to assault causing the death of Haydn Butcher on the basis of self-defence and defence of another when his trial kicked off at Downing Centre District Court on Monday.

George Habkouk at Downing Centre Court today. Picture: David Swift.
George Habkouk at Downing Centre Court today. Picture: David Swift.

 

Haydn Butcher
Haydn Butcher

Habkouk admits striking the drunk 30-year-old in the head outside the Lakes Hotel at The Entrance about 1am on New Year's Day, 2018.

Mr Butcher fell to the ground, fractured his skull on the footpath and lost consciousness, Crown prosecutor Carl Young said in his opening address.

"Witnesses will describe a loud cracking sound," he said.

"Mr Habkouk is shown on the footage to run away."

Mr Butcher was taken to hospital in a critical condition but died the next day from a traumatic brain injury, the court heard.

The Lakes Hotel at the Entrance. Picture: John Grainger
The Lakes Hotel at the Entrance. Picture: John Grainger

Eyewitness testimony and CCTV footage will show that one of Habkouk's female Red Pepper Gourmet Pizzeria workers had been punched in the face by another man at the pub minutes before the incident, Mr Young said.

The young woman, who dressed like a "tomboy", was running after him outside the hotel when Mr Butcher threw his arm out to stop her in a "coathanger" move, the court heard.

Mr Butcher, who had earlier been kicked out of the pub and had amphetamines in his system, claimed he was "only mucking around" when Habkouk hit him in "retaliation", Mr Young said.

Red Pepper Gourmet Pizzeria. Picture: John Grainger
Red Pepper Gourmet Pizzeria. Picture: John Grainger

The 51-year-old Bateau Bay man allegedly later admitted to a friend: "I hit the bloke … just hope he's okay, hope he isn't dead."

But Habkouk's lawyer says he did what was necessary and reasonable to protect the woman who'd worked for him for a decade since she was 15 years old.

"It's not about a king hit or a coward punch," defence barrister Margaret Cunneen SC said.

"This is a trial about Mr Habkouk hitting the unfortunate Mr Butcher who he had seen less than five seconds before coat hanger his female employee and bring her down … she was hit hard."

The trial continues.



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