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Vic: Hunt found guilty of road rage attack

By Daniel Fogarty
08 May 2009 6:39 PM

MELBOURNE, May 8 AAP - In 14 years as a policeman Rex Hunt learnt to defend himself with force.

But his use of force in a road rage altercation with a cyclist has ended with the media identity found guilty of a criminal charge.

Rodney Andonopoulos suffered a broken finger when he was attacked by Hunt after they argued over a traffic incident on a busy bayside Melbourne road last July.

Hunt, 60, a former VFL footballer, was found guilty on Friday of recklessly causing injury to the cyclist.

The guilty verdict came after he passionately defended his actions in animated evidence to the Melbourne Magistrates Court and in a taped police interview.

"After 14 years in the police force dealing with criminals the only way I know to defend myself is to use as much force as I can to stop the attack on my person," he said.

"As an old man I was looking for the next opportunity to defend myself from a fellow I believed was totally out of control."

But magistrate Peter Reardon disagreed with Hunt's version of events, saying he was the aggressor in the attack on Ormond Esplanade in suburban Elwood.

"He decided to take the matter into his own hands in an aggressive way," Mr Reardon said.

"(Mr Andonopoulos) was passive, non-aggressive when the ultimate confrontation took place."

Mr Reardon said Hunt was clearly agitated after Mr Andonopoulos hit his four-wheel drive with his hand because he believed the former footballer nearly caused him to collide with a parked car.

Outside court, Hunt, who is now a football broadcaster with radio station 3AW, said he accepted the decision.

He said he hoped it would lead to changes to the popular cycling road, also known as Beach Road.

"I am disappointed with the decision, but I accept the decision of the court," Hunt said.

"I just hope the cyclists of Beach Road get a real fair deal.

"Cyclists have a right to ride along Beach Road and unfortunately the bad news for motorists is that parking must go."

Giving evidence on Thursday, Mr Andonopoulos told the court Hunt put him in a bear hug and then began fighting with him.

"He came towards me with his hands raised and he grabbed my fingers and broke one," he said.

"I was really shocked and very scared, frightened."

Mr Andonopoulos, an IT manager, said that Hunt had earlier swung his four-wheel drive at him.

"The first thought that came into my mind was that I was going to be cut in half," he said.

In court on Friday, Hunt admitted to feeling uncomfortable in the witness box despite his former job as a police prosecutor.

"I pushed him," Hunt said.

"It wasn't a little push, I pushed him as hard as I could. I was under attack."

Hunt said he was not scared by the man but concerned.

Three alternate charges Hunt was facing, including the more serious charges of recklessly causing serious injury and intentionally causing injury, were dismissed.

Pre-sentence submissions will be heard on Wednesday.