28 April 2022

Man killed at Weston Creek skatepark was stabbed up to six times, murder trial told

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts Photo: Michelle Kroll Region Media

The accused was 15 years old when he allegedly stabbed an 18-year-old at the Weston Creek skatepark. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Jurors have heard the teenager accused of murdering an 18-year-old man, who received six stab injuries during a “quick and confused melee” at the Weston Creek skatepark, admitted he stabbed a boy in the back during the same fight.

At the start of the ACT Supreme Court trial on Thursday (28 April), it was alleged he was the only person who carried a knife during the fight and also commented to another man that he “had stabbed them”.

Jurors have to decide whether the accused, who was 15 years old at the time, is guilty of murdering the 18-year-old.

He died from his injuries, which apparently included two 12 cm-long wounds, after the fight at the skatepark that happened shortly before 1 am on 27 September 2020.

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In Crown Prosecutor Rebecca Christensen SC’s opening address, she said while he pleaded not guilty to murder, he did plead guilty to stabbing the dead man’s 16-year-old cousin who received a serious stab wound to his back via a charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm.

She said a “heated exchange” began over the social media platform Snapchat between the cousin, who was at a gathering in Jerrabomberra, and a teenager he hadn’t met before who was with others, including the accused, at a gathering in Stirling.

They agreed to meet for a one-on-one fight at the skatepark, but the Stirling group called a group of men aged 18, 19 and 25 who were partying in Duffy to come as backup “in case things went south”.

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While this was happening, the 18-year-old went to meet his cousin, concerned for him after learning about the argument, and agreed to drive him and two others to the skatepark in a Toyota.

They took a machete with them, but Ms Christensen said the cousin believed this was a plastic machete. She expected experts would say it was poorly made and couldn’t even cut a tomato or paper.

She said what happened after the 12 people in three groups and three cars arrived at the skatepark was “not entirely clear”, being a “quick and confused melee” that lasted just two minutes and 12 seconds.

But she expected jurors would hear two from the Stirling group quickly got out of their car and assaulted the cousin by dragging him out of the Toyota, punching and kicking him, while the accused stabbed him in the back.

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She also expected a person in the Toyota would say he pulled the machete from the car and began swinging it around, saying, “everyone, I have a machete … please stop”.

As this was happening, Ms Christensen said she expected the 18 and 25-year-olds from the Duffy group would say they had been attacking the 18-year-old victim, and punching him while their 19-year-old friend held him in a bear hug.

She expected jurors would hear the three adults stopped the assault when the machete started being waved around, but then returned to their car, grabbed a rake, shovel and pickaxe and used it to smash the Toyota, causing extensive damage.

Ms Christensen said the 18-year-old was most likely stabbed when the adults had stopped assaulting him and gone to get the tools from their car.

She alleged the accused was the “only person armed with a knife”; however, she did not expect any witnesses would say they saw him stab either the 18-year-old or his cousin.

The evidence the Crown relied on to establish he had committed murder was circumstantial, she said.

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A forensic pathologist is expected to say it was possible the same knife caused the injuries to the 18-year-old and the cousin, forensic scientists would say stains on the inner waistband of the accused’s pants apparently tested positive for blood, and a textile expert would say the same knife caused damage to the 18-year-old and the cousin’s clothes.

Ms Christensen also alleged the accused had made admissions, including telling another 18-year-old man “he had stabbed them”.

Barrister David Barrow, representing the accused, said a number of the witnesses were “people who are quite willing to lie” and questioned who had an opportunity to stab the 18-year-old, as well as what opportunities his client had.

The trial is expected to last for five to six weeks before Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

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