Crown bouncer case: lip reader questioned

The credibility of a forensic lip reader brought from England to give evidence in the Crown casino manslaughter case was questioned in court today.

Jessica Rees has spent several days analysing CCTV footage of the night Anthony Dunning was crash-tackled by a Crown bouncer and allegedly held in a "choke hold".

Mr Dunning died four days later.

Prosecutor Andrew Tinney, SC, has told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that Ms Rees will give evidence as to some of the things said when Dunning and his friends, Olivia Ferguson and Matthew Anderson, were confronted by Crown security guards on the night of July 3 last year.

Mr Tinney said the evidence of several bouncers did not accord with the evidence of casino patrons and the evidence of the CCTV footage.

It is only the second time in an Australian court that Ms Rees has given expert evidence. The first time was in a Family Court matter in 2010.

Six security guards - Matthew Lawson, 27, Quoc Tran, 34, Benjamin Vigo, 24, Cameron Sanderson, 40, Nicholas Levchenko, 26, and Jacques Fucile, 30 - have been charged over Mr Dunning's death.

Lawson has been charged with manslaughter while the other five face assault charges.

Cross-examined by barrister Lachlan Carter, for Tran, Ms Rees was today asked why the Crown Prosecution Services in England and Wales had decided in 2005 to never call her again as an expert witness.

Ms Rees said there had been a misunderstanding over her qualifications.

She had studied at Oxford University but never completed her studies and did not have a full degree in English.

Ms Rees denied having ever giving sworn evidence that she did have an Oxford University degree.

An investigation was carried out into her qualifications and it was found she had never lied in court, she said.

Ms Rees has compiled a nine-page transcript of what she believes certain people said on the night at Crown casino. Details of the transcript have not been released to the public.

Dunning, 40, was standing on his own at the Velvet bar at 10.45pm when Lawson told him he had to leave because he was drunk.

Mr Tinney has told the court that as Dunning was moving towards the exit, Tran is seen on the CCTV footage saying something to Lawson.

Ms Ferguson believed it was something insulting towards Dunning, so she slapped him.

The prosecutor said Ms Ferguson was thrown to the floor and repeatedly called a slut and whore and told not to move.

Mr Anderson was also thrown to the floor and one of his attackers allegedly said, "This c...'s bleeding on me' and someone also allegedly said 'Your wife's a slut and she's on the ground as well'."

Mr Anderson suffered a broken nose and an injured left arm.

Mr Dunning turned and saw his friends on the ground when Tran was allegedly heard to say "Put him on the ground".

Lawson crash-tackled Dunning before getting on top of him, straddling him, and allegedly placing his arms around Dunning's head and neck.

Police later told forensic pathologist Dr Noel Woodford that Dunning had been put in a "choker hold" for 80 seconds and never regained consciousness.

Dunning was taken by ambulance to The Alfred hospital and died four days later.

Ms Rees, who has been a professional lip reader since 1995, will continue her evidence tomorrow.

This story Crown bouncer case: lip reader questioned first appeared on The Age.