FORMER Newcastle Knights coach Warren Ryan has been convicted of assaulting an elderly drinking companion.
Edward Purcell, 76, told Waverley Court on Monday that Ryan lashed out after an argument at the Pagewood Hotel, Marboubra, in 2016.
CCTV showed Ryan punch Purcell twice, and a third time when the victim fell to the ground. He also appeared to kick him in the back while on the ground.
While the magistrate agreed with Ryan’s assertion that he believed he had been threatened, he found Ryan’s response was excessive, referring to the third punch.
He found Ryan guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on that basis and handed him a 12-month good-behaviour bond.
Ryan did not answer questions as he left court.
Purcell told the court he had arrived at the Pagewood Hotel in Maroubra with friends, then began chatting to Ryan and his brother Chris Ryan about Donald Trump.
"He started asking me questions about bloody politics, things I couldn't care less about. I said: 'I'm not interested,' " Mr Purcell said.
"They were asking me what I thought about Donald Trump and all that. I said I don't care what he does. It's America."
Purcell said Ryan began to get "quite aggressive" because he didn't like the answers he was getting.
"He said: 'You're the dumbest so-and-so I've ever met,' " Mr Purcell said.
"I said: 'Maybe I feel the same about you.'
"He said: 'I'll deck you right here.' "
Mr Purcell said he didn't want trouble in the pub, so he suggested the men should take it outside.
"I would've followed him out," he said. "He didn't, he came around the table.
"He came roaring at me like a bull and said: 'You mongrel', then 'bang'."
Purcell said he heard "a hell of a crack like a hammer hitting a nail" then staggered backwards and "went down".
Ryan's barrister, Bernard Gross, QC, said the conversation had not been about Donald Trump, but about the abolition of penalty rates.
"I said if you can't understand what I'm saying, you're a bloody moron," Ryan said.
Ryan coached five first-grade teams: Newtown, Canterbury, Balmain, Western Suburbs and the Knights, winning two premierships.