Cage fighters beaten up in brawl
TWO cage fighters were knocked unconscious when brawls erupted among 200 people in the Lismore CBD following a professional cage-fighting bout at the Lismore Workers Club earlier in the night.
Lismore Local Court Magistrate Robyn Denes slammed the violence saying: “The whole community should hang its head in shame,” when sentencing three Lismore elite rugby league sportsmen for their role in the street fighting.
The sportsmen had been described as role models to indigenous young people and their defence lawyer revealed the fights may have been caused by racist taunts.
James Roberts, 22, of Goonellabah, Jermaine Roberts, 24, of Goonellabah, and Steven Roberts, 29, of Lismore, pleaded guilty to one count each of affray (using violence on cage fighter Nathan Solomon) at 3.30am on March 28.
The injured Solomon was later issued with an infringement notice by police and fined for his role. Another cage fighter, Peter Rohr, of Toowoomba, was also knocked out and received six stitches to cuts above an eye.
Other people who took part were not identified by police or arrested, including one aggressive young woman captured on CCTV punching a man in the face.
Ms Denes ordered police to play a Lismore City Council CCTV tape in the court showing the street fighting and crowd mayhem, with police stating that 200 were involved after hotels closed at 3am.
Prosecutor Sgt Peter Costin-Neilsen said the three men were charged because they had continued on with their behaviour by pursuing their victims.
Defence lawyer Kylie Anderson-Clarke said the three Roberts' men had been at a nightclub and did not know the other men belonged to the cage-fighting fraternity.
Ms Anderson-Clarke said James Roberts claimed Solomon made racist comments and when he told the cage fighter there was ‘no need to be like that', someone hit James from the side and Solomon ended up on top of him on the ground.
The lawyer said the three men were normally not involved in such offending and not known to go looking for fights. She asked for good behaviour bonds because their behaviour was very out of character.
Ms Anderson-Clarke said it was instigated by racial taunts from Solomon. She said Solomon kicked Steven Roberts in the face who then ‘lost his cool' as he received a chipped tooth.
Police facts stated punches were thrown between Solomon and Steven Roberts and Solomon was seen to throw a side-kick at him.
Jermaine Roberts was seen to rush in and throw punches hitting Solomon in the head. Solomon walked away, but was followed by both men with the attacks continuing involving all three of the Roberts'. Both Solomon and Rohr were knocked out.
“It's an appalling indictment of everyone out there that night,” Ms Denes said.
“It makes me feel sick to see it.”
“You don't see elite Olympians do that. It is violent. It is criminal behaviour and people can get killed,” she said, referring to them as sports role models before placing them on 18-month good behaviour bonds.
Ms Denes expressed concern at the number of people involved and criticised security guards for not stepping in early.