Anger points aired over Vic surgeon punch

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A man accused of punching a Melbourne surgeon, who later died of brain injuries, found it hard to control his anger, a court has been told.

Joseph Esmaili, 24, is on trial in the Supreme Court for the manslaughter of chest surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, who is alleged to have fronted up to his attacker before being punched.

“When someone pushes him like that it was hard to control his anger,” witness Lucas Rogers said on Wednesday of Esmaili recounting a conversation after the event.

Mr Rogers had met Esmaili a few times as the defendant was friends with his nephew, he told the court.

From up to 30m away, the labourer had witnessed an argument escalate after Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann asked someone in a group to stop smoking in a non-smoking area at Box Hill Hospital in May last year.

“It looked like they were arguing, the doctor appeared to escalate the aggression,” Mr Rogers said.

“I think he bumped chests with him. I saw that.”

The witness said Esmaili later told him he “just wished the bloke would have left him alone”.

Another witness who was at the hospital at the time said she saw the lead-up and aftermath of the punch.

In her statement to police, Holly Poulse said it was “obvious” the pair were in a heated argument.

“I saw the man fall to the ground like a log and hit the hospital tiles,” she said.

Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann suffered head injuries when he fell and spent about a month unconscious in hospital before life support was switched off.

Esmaili’s trial is due to continue on Thursday with witnesses including hospital staff.

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