Hopoate clashes with reporters

Former NRL player and boxer John Hopoate has clashed with reporters at a Sydney court where he appeared on a charge of common assault.

Hopoate, 36, faced Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday on charges relating to a bashing in Sydney’s nightclub area, Kings Cross, in December, allegedly involving bouncers from the Trademark Hotel.

He pleaded not guilty to common assault but did not enter pleas for two other charges, including affray and a fresh charge, served on his defence team on Tuesday morning, of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company.

Hopoate stood in the doorway of the packed courtroom while his matter was heard, preventing reporters from entering.

Two female journalists who managed to push their way through in a physical struggle were told by the former footballer to “get out”, “there’s no room”.

He stood shoulder to shoulder with another man to try to deny them access.

Wilson Duque Castillo, 33, died and his brother suffered facial injuries when they were bashed after being refused entry to the Trademark Hotel on December 18.

Wilson slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.

His 27-year-old brother, Wilmer, was treated for facial injuries.

Police allege the brothers and a friend were chased after one of them threatened door staff.

Hopoate, a former heavyweight boxing champion and top-level rugby league player who was working as a bouncer at the Trademark Hotel, was arrested the following day and has been charged over the attack on Wilmer.

Registrar Craig Crooke continued Hopoate’s bail to reappear in court on March 8.

by Buford Balony

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