Jury acquits Crown bouncers over patron's death

THREE Crown Casino bouncers have been acquitted of charges over a drunk patron's death after he was brought forcibly to the ground and restrained.

Following a trial in Victoria's Supreme Court, a jury found Matthew Scott Lawson, 27, and Cameron Paul Sanderson, 40, not guilty on Friday of the manslaughter of Anthony William Dunning.

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Crown bouncers not guilty of manslaughter

Three Crown bouncers charged in relation to the death of an intoxicated patron have been acquitted in the Supreme Court.

Several jurors wept as the foreman announced the verdicts.

The visibly devastated friends Mr Dunning had been out with that night also sobbed, with their heads in their hands.

Anthony Dunning.
Anthony Dunning. 

On leaving court, one of the friends said of the jury: ''They got it wrong.''

Mr Dunning, 40, died four days after he was thrown to the floor and restrained for several minutes while being ejected by security for drunkenness following a day of drinking on July 3, 2011.


Crown security officer Benjamin Michael Vigo, 24, was also acquitted of assault.

All three had pleaded not guilty. The incident was captured on CCTV footage and occurred seconds after Mr Dunning turned around to where his two friends had been dragged to the ground and restrained by Crown security staff.

Matthew Lawson.
Matthew Lawson. Photo: Craig Abraham

The trial heard that Mr Dunning weighed 146 kilograms and had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.19 per cent on the night.

He suffered a cardiac arrest due to his brain being starved of oxygen.

Cameron Sanderson.
Cameron Sanderson. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

The prosecution argued that Mr Dunning was ''quite senselessly and needlessly and violently brought to the ground'' with ''unnecessary physical force'' and was ''clearly and obviously helpless'' in the circumstances.

The trio were also accused of telling deliberate untruths, intentionally exaggerating aspects of what they claimed had happened, and making several misrepresentations about Mr Dunning's behaviour to justify their actions.

Benjamin Vigo.
Benjamin Vigo. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

This included stating that Mr Dunning had become abusive, aggressive and was struggling with the bouncers while he was being restrained on the ground. The prosecution said this contradicted what was seen of the incident in CCTV footage.

The trio's defence lawyers argued the bouncers were doing their job in accordance with their training and strict legislation the casino was required to follow, which included that patrons were not allowed to be drunk on the premises.

None of the three had prior convictions.

Mr Lawson, Mr Sanderson and Mr Vigo smiled, hugged and shook hands as they left the dock. The bouncers declined to comment as they left court.

After the verdicts, Crown Casino released a statement saying: ''Crown has been advised of the jury's verdict and is considering its implications. Accordingly, Crown is not in a position to comment at this stage.''

Crown is believed to have paid the trio's legal fees.