Bashing a beat up

By BELINDA SCOTT

WESTS Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall either ducked for cover and missed the punch meant for him in Coffs Harbour on Monday night, or he was hit but not injured, or he was not involved in any fight at all.

Take your pick, because newspaper and radio reports of events in the bar of Coffs Harbour's Greenhouse Tavern in the early hours of Tuesday morning resemble each other only slightly.

The only fact everyone seems to agree on is that the West Tigers superstar was in the Greenhouse Tavern bar on Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Coffs Harbour Police said yesterday they had received no complaint about the matter, but police were there on the night for an unrelated incident about a person allegedly failing to leave the premises when requested.

The owner of the Greenhouse Tavern, Anthony Haslam, said yesterday that he had nine security staff, 25 bar staff and about 10 other staff on duty on Monday night and of those, only one person saw 'a bit of push and shove' but no punches thrown.

Mr Haslam said he had been at the door all night, no one was thrown out of the Greenhouse, but he saw one person leave with a torn shirt.

"I've reviewed all the video evidence with the police ? apparently there was a disagreement, but we can't see anything on any security video and no security staff saw any punches thrown.

"Benji Marshall left with about five other friends in a taxi about an hour and half afterwards, so it must have been a very minor incident."

Yesterday the Daily Telegraph's Dean Ritchie quoted two eyewitnesses as saying a man had swung about six punches at Benji Marshall, hitting the footballer in the face and knocking him off his feet.

A Wests Tigers spokesmen told ABC News that two people who were causing trouble had been evicted from the tavern and a punch had missed Marshall, who had not retaliated.

Benji Marshall was in Coffs Harbour on Monday with permission to watch his younger brother play touch football in the touch titles being held in the city.



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