An Englishman was inconsolable after being defamed in a "sensationalised" TV news report depicting him as having got away with landing a coward punch on a "heroic Aussie sportsman", a judge has been told.
Sam Oliver is suing the Nine Network in the Federal Court over its September 2018 report on him being cleared of assaulting Australia's former rugby sevens captain and Olympian James "Chucky" Stannard in March 2018.
He is seeking a "large sum" including general damages of between $200,000 to $250,000, while Nine said if he wins he should only receive a "modest" amount.
A magistrate found the 23-year-old, who'd been in Australia on a working holiday visa, not guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm on the basis of self-defence after Stannard threw the first punch.
On Monday at the one-day Sydney hearing, Mr Oliver's barrister Stuart Littlemore QC screened the "sensationalised" report.
He submitted it conveyed six defamatory meanings including that his client was a coward who got away with punching a defenceless man, ruining his career and causing him serious injury.
Bruce McClintock SC, for Nine, denied those meanings were conveyed submitting it had been a fair report.
"The viewer would know he was innocent because a judge found him innocent," he said.
The use of Stannard saying "I feel like the truth didn't come out in the hearing" was an honest opinion, while viewers would think "Well he would say that wouldn't he", Mr McClintock said.
The report, which had the caption "No Penalty", began with the newsreader saying "it was a coward punch which ended the end the career" of Stannard.
The newsreader also said Oliver "claimed" he'd acted in self-defence and the "victim" hit him first, the QC said.
Stannard was "lionised" with a caption stating he was an Olympian and showing him scoring a try, while footage was shown of Mr Oliver after his arrest, between two policemen and attempting to cover his face.
The QC said the reporter was filmed outside the Coogee Bay hotel, where the incident occurred and "we are given a close-up of the footpath" with a stain on it.
"Is this the hero's blood?" Mr Littlemore asked.
Referring to Stannard's comment about feeling the truth didn't come out, the QC said the Olympian had been too drunk to have any recollection of what happened.
Mr Oliver was not at the hearing, as he was refused a visa when he and his father Chris Oliver turned up at Englan'd's Newcastle airport on Thursday.
Describing the case now as "Hamlet without the prince", Mr Littlemore said his client had applied for the wrong visa, but his father was in court.
In his affidavit, Chris Oliver said his son was inconsolable after seeing the report and referred to Stannard as being a celebrity who was "untouchable" in the Australian press.
Justice Michael Lee will deliver his decision on a later date.