Pottsville man dies after brawl

ANDREW HOULAHAN was a 'really nice guy' who was just starting his career as a builder.

But the 23-year-old Pottsville resident died early Sunday at The Tweed Hospital after a brawl outside a Coolangatta food outlet.

Mr Houlahan grew up in Murwillumbah, where he attended Mount Saint Patrick's College.

Murwillumbah resident Brad Dorney's two sons, Troy, 30, and Shawn, 24, have been sharing a house with Mr Houlahan in Pottsville's Koala Beach estate for the past year.

They were with him on Sunday when the fight broke out and he was allegedly punched twice before falling to the ground.

Mark Leslie Fitzgerald, 21, from Elanora, has been charged with manslaughter over the incident and was yesterday granted bail in Southport Magistrates Court.

“They are devastated,” Mr Dorney said of his sons. “They've never had a fight in their lives.

“They are still very upset. They still think it's a bit of a nightmare.

“They are going through that shock kind of stage.

“There are a lot of people who know him and his family, so the whole town (of Murwillumbah) is devastated.”

Mr Dorney's sons attended school with Mr Houlahan and the trio had been friends for 'a long time', he said.

The two brothers went to visit Mr Houlahan's parents yesterday to offer them support.

“He was just a really nice guy,” Mr Dorney said of Andrew.

“I've never heard of any trouble with him. He's just one of the guys, no enemies or anything.

“He just got his builder's licence. He was just getting into the start of his career.

“It's a very emotional time for everyone.”

Fitzgerald was yesterday granted strict conditional bail by Magistrate Brian Kucks.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Damian Summerfield yesterday told the court the defendant had admitted twice punching Mr Houlahan in the head during a brawl outside the Big Chief hamburger bar on Griffith Street.

Sgt Summerfield, who opposed bail, said CCTV footage also showed what happened in the melee, which erupted in the early hours of Sunday morning after two groups of young men exchanged insults.

“The two groups became involved in an argument and insults were exchanged,” the prosecutor told the court. “The deceased and his friends walked away and the defendant followed them and addressed them in an aggressive manner.”



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