Phillip Hughes inquest comes to close
Photo Source: AAP
Members of Phillip Hughes' family have scoffed and walked out of a Sydney court in a tempestuous end to an emotional five-day inquest.
A wedge between the cricket community and Hughes' family has deepened at the Downing Centre over whether the 25-year-old was targeted by short-pitched bowling and comments before he was fatally struck during a Sheffield Shield match on November 25, 2014.
Cynical laughter could be heard in the courtroom as Bruce Hodgkinson SC, who is part of a team representing cricket boards and players, said the "bonds of mateship were on display" from the moment Hughes was injured.
"The display of affection and respect speaks volumes about this young man," he said in a statement similar to the one delivered by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland at Hughes' funeral.
"Wherever cricketers gather, they will always hold Phillip Hughes in their hearts."
Hughes' sister Megan left the court towards the end of the statement, which was delivered on Friday on behalf of Cricket Australia, the South Australian Cricket Association and Cricket NSW.
The entire family also left the courtroom as Mr Hodgkinson earlier submitted that statements suggesting NSW bowler Doug Bollinger said "I am going to kill you" before Hughes was hit shouldn't detract from the testimony of umpires and players, who say they can't recall the sledge.
The family's barrister, Greg Melick SC, initially submitted some evidence had been fabricated.
But he later retracted the statement, saying the evidence of players is not reliable because they first gave statements 18 to 22 months after the tragedy.
"At the end of the day, there was a plan," he said.
"There was sledging and short balls were bowled at Phillip Hughes."
Mr Melick said evidence from retired Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and Australian vice captain David Warner that there was no sledging at all on the day "beggars belief".
The court has heard NSW bowler Sean Abbott bowled nine straight short balls to Hughes, including the fatal delivery.
The submissions came as statements from Hughes' family, in which they expressed numerous concerns about the lead-up and aftermath of the incident, were released to the media.
Hughes' sister Megan said her mother was "panicking" after Hughes was hit and that it seemed to take a tremendously long time for an ambulance to arrive.
She wanted "justice" for the chaos she says occurred at the SCG and described how Bollinger came over to her and her mother, Virginia.
"Mum turned and looked up to him and said, "Have you seen Phillip? Is he conscious?'" Megan Hughes recalled.
"Doug replied, 'Yes, he is conscious.'"
The inquest has heard Hughes never regained consciousness before he died.
In his written statement, Jason Hughes said he was at work when he heard about the incident.
"I was thinking he was knocked out, but knowing Phil, he would just get back up," he said.
Father Greg Hughes said the alleged sledging was abusive and intimidating and amounted to slander, while the short pitched bowling left his son in an "unsafe workplace."
Counsel assisting Kristina Stern SC has submitted it would be unnecessary for State Coroner Michael Barnes to make any finding regarding sledging and there is no evidence the nature of play exacerbated the risk of injury.
Senior Cricket Australia official Pat Howard said the inquest had been difficult for traumatised players while the Hughes family did not say anything as they left the court complex.
Mr Barnes is expected to hand down his findings on November 4.