As the trial over the 18-year-old stabbed to death at the Weston Creek skatepark began to come to a close, jurors were told while it might be hard to accept a young boy killed him, that was what the evidence showed.
“There can be no doubt on any view of this matter it was a senseless tragedy,” Crown Prosecutor Rebecca Christensen SC said in her closing submissions to the ACT Supreme Court on Friday (27 May).
“There can also be no doubt it’s difficult not to feel concerned for the family of [the] 18-year-old [victim] and also feel concerned for the family of [the accused] and what might happen to him.
“It might be difficult to accept that a 15-year-old has killed an 18-year-old boy in these circumstances, but that is what the evidence establishes.”
The accused, now aged 17, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the man during the brawl at the skatepark on 27 September 2020 but guilty to stabbing the man’s then-16-year-old cousin in the back.
Ms Christensen said the Crown had a circumstantial case and alleged the four main aspects were that the accused had a knife, no one else at the skatepark had such a weapon, there was forensic evidence linking him to both stabbings, and he apparently admitted attacking the two of them.
The accused said he had a knife at the skatepark but claimed he found it on the ground in front of the 18-year-old’s Toyota 86 during the fight before using it to stab the 16-year-old, dropping it twice after he found it, and put it in his pants when he left the scene.
However, Ms Christensen said no other witness said they saw a knife nor saw one dropped, thrown away or picked up and his evidence was “entirely implausible”.
She questioned why the person who supposedly stabbed the 18-year-old would throw away and leave the knife they used behind and how plausible it would be that the accused would have seen a “magic knife” lying on the ground in the dark.
She also said blood from the 18-year-old and his 16-year-old cousin was found on the inside of the accused’s pants, and the marks left behind were consistent with the accused putting the knife in his pants twice.
Additionally, forensic pathologist Professor Johan Duflou said the same knife could have caused the stab wounds to both the 18-year-old and his cousin.
Ms Christensen said each of the people who went to the skatepark gave evidence at the trial and all said they hadn’t taken a knife with them and had not stabbed the 18-year-old.
She expected the accused’s barrister David Barrow would say “what liars these people were”, but she said it was a big step to conclude they lied about something as significant as who caused the teen’s death.
They might have “their own guilt and even trauma” to deal with, so she urged jurors to keep in mind “the reality in which they found themselves”.
She said during the brawl, the 16-year-old was stabbed soon after he was pulled from the passenger’s side of the car. A boy then produced a machete, then there was a pause in the melee while the three adults went to get gardening tools from the Triton ute they arrived in. They then used the tools to smash the Toyota.
She alleged between when the 16-year-old was stabbed and the adults went to get the tools, “that’s the opportunity that [the accused] has to stab [the 18-year-old]”.
Ms Christensen also alleged he had the opportunity to be on both sides of the car without being seen because no one was paying attention to him because he wasn’t a close friend that anyone was looking out for.
She alleged the accused stabbed the 16-year-old then went to the driver’s side of the Toyota and stabbed the 18-year-old, who had just been assaulted by the three adults and was likely still feeling the impacts of that attack.
One boy who arrived with the accused said he saw him coming back to their car from the driver’s side of the Toyota.
Ms Christensen alleged the accused had a state of mind that amounted to murder because of the six stabs to the 18-year-old, their location to his torso and heart, as well as the depth of the wounds, suggested there was a level of force involved.
“[The accused] is responsible for the stabbing of [the 18-year-old] and I would ask that you return a verdict of guilty to murder,” she told jurors.
Mr Barrow briefly addressed jurors as well, ahead of giving his closing submissions on Tuesday (31 May), saying the “big issue” was what jurors could actually conclude after hearing all the evidence.
He said there was no direct evidence the accused was responsible for what happened to the 18-year-old and what evidence did exist suggested he wasn’t.
“Each aspect of the case is unsatisfactory,” he said.