by John Weekes
A RELIEVED dad cleared of assaulting his son's footy coach says he can finally get back to what matters most - family.
Geoffrey James Whittaker pleaded not guilty earlier this week to an alleged attack on fellow Hervey Bay Seagulls rugby league member Christopher Roberts.
The run-in at a 2016 touch footy carnival in Morayfield followed a history of animosity between the two men.
Mr Roberts told a Brisbane District Court trial he was at his car when Mr Whittaker swore at and "head-butted” him.
But Mr Whittaker claimed the coach dropped his son from a footy team out of spite, insulted his wife, and provoked him.
Jurors reached two not guilty verdicts on Thursday afternoon, soon after Judge Julie Ryrie summed up the case.
"It's finally over. I'm still nervous but I'm feeling like justice has been served on a gold platter,” Mr Whittaker said outside court.
He said he'd been "intimidated, provoked” and his wife insulted before the October 2016 incident.
"It's just about destroyed my family to be honest,” Mr Whittaker said.
"Now I can get back on to what I can concentrate on, which is my family.
"I'm glad I'm not the one that looks like the idiot any more. I can hold my head high and he can drop his head.
"I'm sorry for what it has come to. It's been a whole waste of the government's time and money. But like I said, justice has been served.”
Both men accused the other of using the insult "dog c---.”
Mr Whittaker's barrister Rick Taylor told the court his client was goaded.
He said a "venomous” coach dropped Mr Whittaker's son from a footy team in a "contrived and vicious act”.
"Sometimes it's appropriate to defend oneself by striking first,” Mr Taylor said.
Mr Roberts rejected claims he would not let Mr Whittaker's son play on the team out of spite.
"I didn't punish him - all the kids know that if they don't come to training they don't play,” he said.
Mr Roberts said Mr Whittaker "reached out with an open palm and hit me in the throat”.
"They'd clearly had contact with each other in unfavourable ways in the past,” Judge Ryrie told jurors.
But she said that did not mean the "one who wins the struggle” had committed a crime. -NewsRegional