Phone rage lands Crowe in court



THE Coffs Coast's most famous resident, Hollywood superstar Russell Crowe is back in the headlines after spending a day in a New York jail cell, a courthouse and in the eye of a media storm.

Crowe has been charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon ? a telephone he is accused of throwing at an employee of New York's Mercer Hotel.

New York police allege the phone struck 28-year-old Nestor Estrada in the face.

Crowe's Los Angeles-based publicist said he lost his temper when a receptionist gave him 'attitude' after the actor asked repeatedly for a faulty phone in his room to be replaced so he could call his family in Australia.

Crowe faces up to eight years in jail if found guilty of both charges.

Police were called to the hotel, where Crowe has been living the past week while promoting his new boxing film, Cinderella Man, at about 4.20am yesterday.

He later appeared briefly in Manhattan's Criminal Courthouse and was released on his own recognisance. He was ordered to return to court on September 14.

Crowe's publicist Robin Baum denied her star client had assaulted the employee.

"After asking the front desk several times to replace a faulty phone in his room - and getting only attitude from the clerk on duty - Crowe brought the phone down to the front desk," Baum said.

"Words were exchanged and Crowe wound up throwing the phone against the wall. He regrets that he lost his temper, but at no time did he assault anyone or touch any hotel employee."



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