A young Englishman will return home after being cleared of flooring Australia's former rugby sevens captain with a king-hit during an argument about "Poms" outside a Sydney kebab shop.
Sam Oliver claimed he acted in self-defence when he punched Olympian James "Chucky" Stannard, 35, in Coogee in the early hours of March 30.
"Nothing good happens after 2 o'clock," the 23-year-old told reporters outside Downing Centre Local Court.
"I'm pretty relieved. I need to let my mum know straight away. She's worried sick."
Stannard suffered a fractured skull and was unable to play at the Commonwealth Games in April, announcing his "forced retirement" in June.
After a two-and-a-half day hearing with 16 witnesses, magistrate Richard Funston on Wednesday found Oliver not guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.
The tradesman, from Newcastle in England's northeast and on a working holiday visa expiring September 21, let out a sigh of relief and hugged his father, Chris, who began to cry by his side in the public gallery.
"I have come to the view that I'm not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this very serious charge can be made out," Mr Funston said.
Prosecutor Burton Ko argued "there was only one hit" and Oliver's injuries were sustained when he was tackled into a car by current captain Lewis Holland, who had been out with Stannard, as he tried to run from the scene.
But the magistrate noted his "critical finding" was that Oliver's wound to his left eye "must have occurred at the first incident" - when he was arguing with Stannard - and not when he fled before being tackled and detained.
He said he "couldn't ignore" a reference made in the statement of outgoing rugby sevens coach, Andrew Friend, that he heard Stannard say 'my brother-in-law is a Pom and I don't get on that well with him' before the clash.
CCTV footage shows the pair separately leaving Coogee Bay Hotel when patrons were evicted at 3am.
Medical records referred to in court show Stannard was heavily intoxicated with a blood alcohol reading of 0.23.
Oliver testified Stannard had approached him and said "Here's a Pommy c***" before throwing the first blow.
He said he'd had eight to 10 pints himself that night and "lashed out in retaliation" - felling Stannard, who suffers ongoing vertigo - before running in the direction of his nearby home.
The magistrate said: "This unfortunate incident had the potential to end with even more tragic circumstances."
"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the fact that alcohol was such a huge issue."
Outside court, Stannard said he was "very disappointed".
"I feel like the truth didn't come out in the hearing. There is no excuse for violence in this community and I don't condone it," he said.
Australian Associated Press