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‘She blacked out’ shock sentence for Olympic basketball star

The prosecution said he hit a woman eight times, causing her momentarily loose consciousness and argued the former Brisbane Bullets player should go to jail for it.

Danny Morseu, 66, who pleaded not guilty in Cairns Supreme Court on May 13 to assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, and deprivation of liberty, leaves court with his solicitor. From Thursday Island, Mr Morseu represented Australia in basketball at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

The court heard that the 65-year-old threw a woman onto a recliner during an argument where he punched her “eight or more times”, resulting in a laceration to her left eyebrow and causing her to black out, she said.

It comes after the former Olympic basketballer was found guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm against a woman.

Also as part of the unanimous verdict, delivered on Thursday morning at Cairns District Court, Morseu was found not guilty of common assault and not guilty of deprivation of liberty.

Olympic two timer Danny Morseu running basketball training sessions at the YMCA in happier times.

Defence barrister Douglas Wilson told the court in his final submission before sentencing that Morseu had endured a challenging upbringing where his father left at a young age and his family lived in a tin shack with no running water, and a kitchen with dirt floors.

He explained that the man had lifted himself to play professional sport.

At age 16 in 1979 he was drafted to play NBL, first with the St Kilda Saints before playing with Geelong Cats and then the Brisbane Bullets.

During his career he was also selected to play for the Australian Boomers, representing them at the 1980 Moscow and 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

He is a member of the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame through being inducted into the NBL Hall of Fame in 2002, the first Indigenous player to receive the honour.

He since worked in various paid and volunteers roles involving basketball, including employment at the Australian Sports Commission.

Mr Wilson argued that as a result of the charges “he is finished, his professional life is sentenced, all those voluntary and remunerated roles are gone” and was also subject to significant community shame on Thursday Island.

He went to ask for an 18 month sentence suspended immediately.

Judge Dean Morzone told the court the assault was “a short incident after a protracted argument that also involved her pushing and shoving” but that the victim was “now struggling on a day-to-day basis with feelings of anxiety and depression”.

Judge Morzone said he took into account that Morseu had experienced “state sponsored racism” growing up, that the offending was “out of character” and that the “risk of reoffending is minimal”.

He sentenced Morseu to 18 months jail and said that he felt compelled to give him actual in time in custody, suspending the sentence after four months in custody.

Four day trial

The two-time Olympic basketballer’s trial began in Cairns District Court on Monday on three charges arising from an incident at his Thursday Island home almost two years ago.

1984. Danny Morseu.

Mr Morseu, 65, pleaded not guilty to assault, assault occasioning bodily harm, and deprivation of liberty arising from an alleged incident at his home on June 17 and 18, 2022.

Mr Morseu represented Australia in basketball at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, played for St Kilda in the nascent NBL from 1979, and

Mr Morseu has acted as a mentor for young Indigenous sportspeople in recent years and is chair of the National Indigenous Basketball Academy.

Mr Morseu will be sentenced this afternoon.

Crown prosecutor told jury to “use common sense”

Crown prosecutor Tim Watkins urged a Cairns District Court jury on Wednesday to use commonsense deciding if Olympian basketballer Danny Morseu was guilty of three charges.

Daniel Frank Morseu, 66, has pleaded not guilty to assault, assault occasioning bodily harm and deprivation of liberty.

The crown alleged Mr Morseu and the 43-year-old woman went out drinking on June 17, 2022, and that when they returned to his home in the early hours of June 18, he threw her onto a couch and punched her about the head eight times over 45 seconds.

Mr Watkins said at the Torres Hotel, Mr Morseu punched the woman three times in the upper arm.

“Your collective common sense will tell you he punched her and detained her against her will,” Mr Watkins said.

Two time Olympic basketballer Daniel Frank Morseu leaves Cairns District Court on May 13, having pleaded not guilty to three charges arising from an alleged incident on Thursday Island in June 2022. Picture: Supplied

He said the woman was “not entirely blameless” as she had pushed Mr Morseu, who fell.

Mr Watkins said the evidence of Dr Erin Jeffrey, who treated the woman, was most supportive as the doctor said the injuries met the definition of bodily harm and blunt force lacerations presented differently to sharp object lacerations.

In a bodyworn camera video played to the court, Mr Morseu suggested to police the woman may have injured herself in the bathroom.

“Yeah mate, I never hit her, I never hit her at all, to be honest with you, maybe she went into bathroom and did something – no idea whatsoever,” Mr Morseu said in the video.

Cairns District Court heard the evening began with Mr Morseu and the alleged assault victim meeting with his family at the Federal Hotel on Thursday Island. Picture: Supplied.

Defence accuses victim of “crocodile tears”

Defence barrister Douglas Wilson argued there were significant inconsistencies in the woman’s evidence.

He said she was not forthright and responsive.

“She was very, very, very evasive … I suggest to you there’s a fair few crocodile tears in this trial,” Mr Wilson said.

“It is my argument she is exaggerating and embellishing.

“Look at her demeanour in the witness box, would she answer questions readily, despite my best efforts, and even his Honour’s, to get answers, I failed, it would take an inordinate amount of time to get an answer that just required a ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” he said.

Cairns District Court trial heard that on June 18, 2022, Daniel Frank Morseu allegedly assaulted a woman and denied her the right to leave his home on Thursday Island. Picture: Supplied

Dr Adam Holyoak told the court on Tuesday he saw the woman a couple of days after the incident when she was referred for CAT scans to ensure there were no undetected brain or skull injuries.

He said the woman’s injuries including the laceration were consistent with multiple blunt force traumas.

“In fact, I would say it would be very difficult to sustain those from a single blunt force trauma,” he said.

But Mr Wilson told the jury when Dr Holyoak saw the woman she had a dressing over the laceration.

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