League star on bashing charge

A PROMINENT Tamworth rugby league player  has been refused bail accused of violently bashing two men in an alcohol-fuelled brawl.

Matthew Zackerman Nean, 22, is one of four men charged over the fight on Sunday morning in Kable Ave which left two men in hospital, including one who was knocked unconscious.

Jeremy Brown, 18, pleaded not guilty to affray and common assault offences while Nean is charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, two counts of common assault, affray, and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The two men were arrested late on Tuesday and appeared in the dock of Tamworth Local Court yesterday, supported by family and friends. 

“The facts that are contained ... raise a serious concern in the court’s mind about the level of violence allegedly used,” Magistrate John Connell said.

“A serious level of violence attributed to Mr Nean.”

The brawl was captured on CCTV and police will allege Nean was the ringleader.

“Mr Nean certainly, according to the facts, is the major participant in this offending,” police prosecutor Sergeant Matthew Price told the court in opposing bail. 

“This offending involves a series of serious alcohol-fuelled assaults in the early hours of the morning after leaving licensed premises, resulting in serious injuries being occasioned to one of the alleged victims. 

“The protection of the alleged victims is paramount, as well as the protection of the community as a whole.”

The victims, both aged in their 20s, sustained broken front teeth, a broken nose, lacerations and bruising and were taken to Tamworth hospital.

Police allege Nean punched one of the victims in the face, causing him to fall to the ground unconscious.

Magistrate Connell said one of the victims tried to shield his brother who was on the ground before he was set upon and allegedly punched in the face.

“Causing him to stumble backwards where he remained in a semi-conscious state,” he said.

He also detailed the alleged gang assault labelled against some of the co-accused.

“Kicked, punched and stomped on the head of [the victim],” Magistrate Connell said.

“A serious allegation ... and very concerning while one person is holding him on the ground.”

A solicitor argued Nean had a problem with alcohol but would adhere to any bail conditions and could remain on house arrest if released.

She added that he should be allowed to attend training, because he is “quite a talented footballer.”

But Magistrate John Connell said he had to refuse bail because “the allegations are serious.”

Brown was granted strict bail on strict conditions.

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