An Albany man accused of assaulting an off-duty police officer who was responding to a report of domestic violence has denied the allegation, claiming he was the victim of a brutal and unprovoked attack. Robert Stephen James Elphick went to trial in Albany Magistrates Court on Wednesday after pleading not guilty to assaulting a public officer. Mr Elphick is alleged to have punched and throttled Albany police officer Aaron Liron on the side of Lancaster Road in McKail on the afternoon of Friday, August 13 last year. However, it was Mr Elphick who was seriously injured in the altercation. The 33-year-old said he needed emergency surgery to relieve pressure around his eye before he was flown to Perth by the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He later had a metal plate inserted around his eye, he told the court. Mr Liron, who says he acted in self-defence, had bruising and reddening to his head. In court on Wednesday, police prosecutor Sergeant Alan Dean said Mr Elphick “lunged” at Mr Liron and tried to strangle him after realising he was a police officer. Defence lawyer Bruno Illari said the two issues before the court were whether Mr Elphick was aware Mr Liron was a police officer and whether he assaulted him. Mr Liron told the court he was driving along Lancaster Road with his pregnant partner when two young children waved them down. He said one of the children came over to his car and told him: “Dad is choking Mum, please help”. Mr Elphick’s partner of 12 years, Tracy Bell, then approached him and assured him everything was OK, he told the court. However, he was not convinced, testifying that Ms Bell appeared “red-faced and distressed”. “She didn’t tell me to leave,” he said. “I had no intention of getting involved, I wanted to make sure they were safe.” Mr Liron said he approached the parked vehicle and Mr Elphick emerged, so he told him: “I’m a cop, stay calm”. In response, it is alleged Mr Elphick said: “Oh, you’re a f...ing copper, are you?” Mr Liron told the court that before he had time to produce identification, Mr Elphick lunged at him, grabbing his throat with one hand and punching him in the face with the other. He said he acted in self-defence by grabbing his attacker’s shirt collar and punching him in the face twice “as hard as I could”. Then, while Mr Elphick’s hands were allegedly still around the officer’s neck, the pair fell into a ditch. Mr Liron said while he was sitting on top of Mr Elphick, he punched him in the face another two times, hoping he would release his grip. “I became even more scared for my safety,” he said. He told the court he was able to gain control after pressing down on veins around Mr Elphick’s neck in an attempt to restrict his blood flow, making him “less strong and aggressive”. Mr Liron, who has been a police officer for two years, said he had never received martial arts training. Albany police and St John Ambulance were called to the scene, where Mr Elphick was handcuffed and taken to hospital. Taking the stand on Wednesday, Mr Elphick denied assaulting Mr Liron. He told the court that his partner had picked him up at 4pm after he drank 10 full-strength beers at a celebration for completing a civil construction course. He admitted that he had alcohol in his system, but denied being drunk. The couple had a “disagreement” about his level of intoxication, he said, with Ms Bell telling him he was not in an appropriate state to attend their child’s football match that evening. Mr Elphick told the court he tapped his partner on the shoulder to let her know he would walk the rest of the way home because it might make him “less intoxicated”. He said he accidentally grabbed her hair. According to him, Mr Liron never said he was a police officer and he did not grab the man’s throat. “He punched me in the face to my nose area. The punch broke my nose, my eyes watered and I was in shock,” he told the court. After falling into the ditch, Mr Liron punched him “another two or three times” and “strangled” him, Mr Elphick told the court. “I thought my kids were going to watch their dad die,” he said. Despite Mr Elphick maintaining he was not drunk, Sgt Dean said a blood test at the hospital revealed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.205. Mr Liron’s former partner, who witnessed the encounter, said she “thought Aaron was going to die”. Mr Elphick’s former partner, Ms Bell, also took the stand as a prosecution witness. She told the court that after Mr Elphick “grabbed her hair”, she pulled the car over because it was not a safe situation. Ms Bell said she only heard “scuffling” and “flesh on flesh hits” while she was distracted by her children. She said that when the two men were in the ditch, she saw the off-duty officer hit her then partner “two or three times”. In cross examination, Ms Bell said she did not recall telling officers that Mr Elphick had no respect for police. However, the court was shown police body-camera footage in which she said he had “no respect for police because he doesn’t like them”. Ms Bell told the court Mr Elphick’s previous interactions with police had not been aggressive or violent. Albany magistrate Dianne Scaddan will deliver her verdict in the judge-alone trial on March 18.