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Cassai accused released on bail

A teenager charged with the manslaughter of David Cassai after a brawl in Rye on New Year’s Eve has been granted bail.

Dylan Closter, 18, made his second application for bail this morning in Melbourne Magistrates Court.

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Closter released on bail

Dylan Closter, 18, charged with the manslaughter of David Cassai after a brawl in Rye on New Year’s Eve has been granted bail.

He was refused bail last week, with Magistrate Kay Robertson agreeing with police that he was at risk of interfering with a witness, who at that stage had not been interviewed.

The witness has now been interviewed by police and has also been charged in relation to the brawl. Closter was released on a $50,000 surety.

His lawyer, Bernie Balmer, said his client had no prior convictions and was employed full-time as an apprentice plumber.

Mr Balmer said that Closter had told police that he had at one point on the night been kicked and punched while on all fours.


Detective Sergeant Sol Soloman told the court that he had not seen evidence of this in CCTV footage taken from two different cameras on the night.

Detective Sergeant Soloman said that the risk that Closter would flee while on bail would be alleviated if a range of conditions were imposed.

Closter must live with his father in Launching Place at night between 10pm and 4am,  unless in his father or boss’s company. He must report to police three times a week, must not leave Victoria, contact or associate with witnesses involved in the case other than the police informant, or commit a criminal offence before his case is heard in court.

Closter, from Millgrove, was charged with manslaughter and intentionally causing affray at an out-of-sessions hearing at Victoria Police’s St Kilda Road complex on Thursday.

Mr Cassai was staying with friends at his parents’ holiday house on the Mornington Peninsula when, about 1am last Monday, he and five friends were involved in an altercation with another five men outside a pizza shop in Rye.

He was allegedly punched, fell and struck his head on the footpath. He later died from his injuries at The Alfred hospital about 4pm that day.

Detective Sergeant Soloman had interviewed Closter and seen CCTV footage of the incident from two different cameras placed at different positions on the night.

He said that a group of six men were at a park next to the Rye Pier on New Year’s Eve when Closter said he needed to use an ATM across the road at a shopping strip.

Another group of men, including victim David Cassai, had just finished dinner and were walking home to Rosebud when the first group came across them.

‘‘Exactly what caused the interaction is still the subject of our investigation ... words were exchanged between the accused in court today and one of the boys,’’ Mr Soloman said.

‘‘As a result of that verbal engagement it’s alleged the accused then bumped one of the boys with his shoulder, which then escalated the issue between the two groups to a fight situation.’’

Mr Soloman said the CCTV footage showed Closter assaulting Mr Cassai three different times ‘‘and he appears to be focusing his aggression on Mr Cassai alone’’.

He said the footage showed Closter knocking Mr Cassai to the ground.

‘‘We see (Closter) advancing upon him and stand over him as if to strike him however others around him tried to hold him back. We then see (Mr Cassai) rise to his feet, back off and move back on footpath, then the accused breaks free of the boys trying to restrain him, runs at him, throws punch at him which doesn’t seem to connect. Then we see the accused further chase Mr Cassai up the street.’’

Mr Soloman said Closter fell to the ground and quickly got to his feet, with Mr Cassai standing in front of him with his hands up ‘‘appearing to defend himself or ward off further attack’’.

‘‘Then all of a sudden (Closter) throws a roundhouse style punch which connects with the right side of his head. (Mr Cassai) falls backward, his head hits the pavement and he lies completely still.’’

Mr Soloman said that Closter had gone to the police with his parents present on January 2 but would not speak to officers ‘‘in depth’’ about the incident until he had spoken to his lawyer Bernie Balmer.

Closter told Mr Soloman that he had taken ‘‘two or three swigs’’ of a bottle of Galliano with his friends before he told them he needed to use the ATM.

‘‘He saw a man from the other group remove a street sign ... and words were exchanged,’’ Mr Soloman said.
‘‘(Closter) then says he was assaulted by a number of persons who was with (Mr Cassai)...’’

Closter told Mr Soloman he was knocked to the ground and when he got to his feet saw someone standing in front of him ‘‘and instinctively lashed out at that person, who fell to ground’’.

Closter told him he left the scene with a girl and ‘‘didn’t realise at the time that he had severely injured the man he’d punched. He couldn’t identify him’’.

Mr Soloman said he had put to Closter a witness account that right after he had punched Mr Cassai he had said words to the effect of ‘‘That’s what we come here for,’’ which he denied.