– A teen accused of fatally punching a 22-year-old man in Rye on New Year’s Eve yesterday faced a courtroom crowded with the dead man’s family and friends.
David Cassai’s mother and two sisters, and several dozen relatives and mates, stared at Dylan John Closter as he entered court.
Mr Closter, 18, is charged with affray and manslaughter.
Tyrone Russell, 21, and Thomas McCluskey, 25 – who are charged over the fight but not Mr Cassai’s death – also faced court beside Mr Closter.
Melbourne Magistrates Court heard there was strong evidence, including CCTV footage, that the accused men and their friends had been the aggressors in a brawl about 1am on December 31st.
Mr Closter is accused of punching Mr Cassai to the head, causing him to fall and strike his head on the footpath.
Mr Cassai, of Templestowe, was flown to The Alfred Hospital but died later that day from head injuries.
Prosecutor Luke Exell said a committal hearing, at which the prosecution evidence would be tested, should be set down for as early as possible, for reasons of public policy and out of concern for the Cassai family.
Mr Closter’s lawyer, Michael McGrath, asked that the committal be delayed, saying he and a key witness were unavailable on a proposed hearing date.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Dan Muling set the hearing for August 5th, and said Mr Closter’s counsel could either make himself available or arrange for his client to get another lawyer.
At least 18 witnesses are due to be called to be cross-examined during the three-week committal hearing.
Mr Russell, from Western Australia, and Mr McCluskey, of Kilsyth, face charges of affray and intentionally causing injury.
Mr Closter – a third-year apprentice plumber from Launching Place – kept his head down during yesterday’s hearing.
At a previous hearing, the court was told CCTV footage showed that friends of Mr Closter tried to restrain him moments before he struck Mr Cassai.
The Homicide Squad’s Detective Sergeant Sol Solomon told a bail hearing in January that Mr Closter delivered a roundhouse-style punch to the right side of Mr Cassai’s head.
Members of Mr Cassai’s family cried after yesterday’s hearing and linked arms as they walked from the court.
The bail of all three accused men was extended – Emily Portelli


About Jumpin' Jack Cash
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