“It came out of nowhere,” Mr Higgins said during a two-day criminal hearing, in which evidence has been called from some of Australia’s captains of industry.
Mr Marshall, who had driven onto Mr Higgins’ Richmond Lowlands property to watch his son-in-law play in the sport’s Australian Open tournament, said he’d acted in self-defence after Mr Higgins launched a verbal and physical attack at the window of his vehicle.
“He yelled at me … I’m going to have your ear cut off – or your nipple. Which one would you prefer?
“I said, ‘oh no, please not my nipple’,” the 68-year-old said in evidence on Thursday.
He made the claims in defence of a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily arm after headbutting Mr Higgins at the Sydney Polo Club on the afternoon of March 29 this year.
He was also charged with refusing to leave the property after being asked to do so but Ms Giles struck out the charge on a technicality after the prosecution finished its case.
Mr Higgins told the court on Wednesday that Mr Marshall drove onto his property that afternoon uninvited.
He said he reached into the driver’s side window to grab Mr Marshall’s car keys before his alleged attacker opened the door, pushing him back and cutting his ear.
“He then lunged aggressively at me and he headbutted me in the nose,” Mr Higgins said.
But the court heard on Thursday Mr Marshall believed he was entitled to be at the ground, on which Mr Higgins’ home is also situated, as it was being used to host an open tournament.
Mr Marshall said he sat in his vehicle, looking ahead, while Mr Higgins continued to yell at him.
“He told me he heard a report of me that I had 20 girlfriends.
“(I said) Jeez, that’s a lot,” Mr Marshall said.
“I said to him, ‘how was Riley’s day in court?’” he said in reference to Mr Higgins’ son Riley, who was facing criminal charges at the time.
“His eyes glazed over and he climbed further into the car, spitting all over me.”
Mr Marshall alleged Mr Higgins had his hands on the car door when he opened it, causing Mr Higgins to “stumble backwards”.
He said he got out of the car and Mr Higgins came at him again.
“I thought, ‘oh my god, he’s going to hit me and he’s going to head-butt me’,” Mr Marshall said, alleging he then put his head forward and the pair connected.
Prosecutor Sergeant Mathew Forth said Mr Marshall arrived at the property wanting to tout his victory over Mr Higgins in a Land and Environment Court dispute, one of many skirmishes between the pair.
Witness Noel Vincent, who gave evidence via audiovisual link, said he saw the confrontation unfold from a distance.
“They were swinging punches and carrying on just like a pair of school kids. It was pathetic,” Mr Vincent said.
The pair were separated and Riley Higgins arrived, acting aggressively, causing the game to stop.
Ms Giles said both men had downplayed their involvement to the point of unreliability.
“It’s unsurprising to anyone who has sat in our public gallery that there were problems with everyone’s evidence,” she said.
But she said that the prosecution was unable to disprove that Mr Marshall perceived he needed to defend himself.
“He makes the one movement, the one head movement, and no others,” she said.
“I’m not satisfied the prosecution has negatived self-defence and I’m not satisfied the assault is made out.”
Angus Thompson is a court reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.