Australian Sailors Charged In Beating Over Football

Two Australian sailors accused of beating a San Diego man after an argument over the virtues of American football versus Australian Rules football pleaded not guilty Wednesday to assault and battery charges.

Philip Graeme Ferres, 26, and Kolis Barba, 24, were each ordered held on $50,000 bail.

Deputy District Attorney Patrick Ojeil told Judge David Szumowski that the defendants -- on leave from the HMAS Sydney -- went to a downtown bar Thanksgiving Eve, where they met the 28-year-old victim.

The three left the bar and went to a house party in nearby East Village, the prosecutor said.

Around 5 the next morning, the victim sensed a deteriorating situation and decided to leave the party and began walking away, Ojeil said. The victim realized Ferres and Barba were following him and began to run, the prosecutor said.

Ojeil said one of the defendants caught up with the victim and punched him to the ground, then both defendants continued to punch and kick him.

He suffered a broken nose, broken rib, lacerations which required 30 stitches to close and a possible broken orbital bone around the eye, Ojeil said.

"It was a very serious assault," Ojeil said outside court. "The attack appears to be unprovoked."

Both defendants were charged with assault causing great bodily injury and battery causing great bodily injury, the prosecutor said.

In addition, Ferres is charged with possession of cocaine.

Barba faces seven years in prison if convicted, while Ferres would face nearly eight years, the prosecutor said.

Both defendants surrendered their passports to the judge, who told them they were not to leave San Diego without court permission if they make bail.

The HMAS Sydney, which was moored in San Diego for five days, left the city on Saturday.

A readiness conference was set for Dec. 7 and a preliminary hearing for Dec. 11.

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