Jenny Stirling with her son Todd Parnell.
Jenny Stirling with her son Todd Parnell.

'Rare' fatal injury likely cause of Todd Parnell’s death

A FORENSIC pathologist believes the "rare" injury that likely caused junior Bronco Todd Parnell's death was most often seen in young men punched while drunk.

Pathologist Nathan Milne told Brisbane Supreme Court that the alcohol relaxed the muscles in the head and neck, which meant they might move more than normal if a blow was struck.

He said the blood vessels usually dilated and could spasm during intoxication.

Mr Milne said he believed Mr Parnell died because a blunt force trauma to the back of his ear, evident from severe bruising, damaged a blood vessel in his brain or neck.

He said he suspected a rapid rotational movement damaged an artery in the neck which caused a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Mr Milne said he could not find the site of the tear during his examination but explained it could have been just 1-2mm.

Wally James Hung, 24, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

Hung told police he stepped in to defend a friend Mr Parnell had just hit and had "blocked" Mr Parnell's arm before he threw a punch.

Hung and Mr Parnell had been at a joint 21st party at the Bribie Island Warrigals clubhouse at Bongaree for a joint 21st party.Hung delivered him about 2.30am on July 26, 2009.

Mr Parnell died the next day.

Crown prosecutor Phil McCarthy asked whether a king hit - which witnesses have alleged was the punch delivered - where Mr Parnell did not see the blow coming would make the scenario worse.

Mr Milne said it would because Mr Parnell would not have tried to maintain his head position in preparation for the punch.

But he said even a punch of "mild force" could cause the tear.Mr Milne said doctors performed "a significant surgical procedure" to remove part of Mr Parnell's skull to relieve pressure.

"I suspect the surgeons knew it was an unsurvivable injury," he said.

Kurt Hart said Mr Parnell appeared unconscious from the moment he began falling.

"It wasn't from a loss of balance, he sort of just dropped," he said.

Joshua Hart, speaking via telephone from Canada, said he joined another party goer to perform CPR on Mr Parnell.

Mr Hart, a qualified lifeguard, said there had been no pulse from the moment he ran to him but they kept the technique going until an ambulance arrived.

Paul McKewin, who was celebrating his 21st with another that night, said everyone was happy and having a good time throughout the night.

He said it was not unusual that Mr Parnell had taken off his shirt during the night and he did not think his friend was "wasted".

"He was just talking, dancing, having a good time," he said.

Mr McKewin said he heard Mr Parnell fall to the ground and rushed to his side.

He said he rolled his friend onto his side so he would not swallow his tongue or vomit.

His father Michael said he had known Hung and Mr Parnell for about nine years as they made their way through the junior grades at the club.

"We heard a thud. Everyone just went quiet," he said.

"Everyone realised it wasn't a normal noise so we knew something had happened."We raced around where everybody else went."

Mr McKewin said he saw Todd on the ground and everyone talking about Hung.

"I said to Wally 'just get the hell out of here'," he said.

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