29 April 2022

Parents describe loss and love for 18-year-old son stabbed to death at Weston Creek skatepark

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

The 18-year-old who died at the Weston Creek skatepark has been remembered as a “calm and well-balanced person”. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

When the father of the 18-year-old stabbed to death during a fight at the Weston Creek skatepark was told his happy, boxing-loving son had died, he spent the next 12 hours staring at the place where he lay.

On the second day of the ACT Supreme Court trial for the teenager accused of murdering the 18-year-old on 27 September 2020, recordings were played to jurors of interviews with his parents in which his mother described him as “perfect” when he was born.

His father said his son was very much into health and fitness, became a “calm and well-balanced person” after getting into boxing and lived in Canberra all his life.

He worked in the family business as a barista and his mother said they had planned on getting him involved in the books and paperwork side of their operation.

She said his 16-year-old cousin, who was stabbed in the back by the accused during the fight, “completely idolised the floor that [my son] walked on”, and they spoke nearly every day.

“He was very happy and very content,” his father said.

“He’d never been in a better place, and us as a family had never been in a better situation.”

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He said their family watched a soccer game and had dinner together on the night of the fight. Then the 18-year-old went to play video games on his PlayStation.

The father said the last time he spoke to his son was when the teen was in “a jovial mood”, still playing video games in his pyjamas, and he reminded him not to stay up too late as they had a trip planned to Corin Forest the next morning.

“He said, ‘roger that’. I said goodnight, and he said ‘goodnight, Dad’.”

The father’s brother called him at about 1:30 am the following day saying the 18-year-old and the 16-year-old had been stabbed in a fight. He drove to Cooleman Court where a police officer told him his son had died at the scene.

He stayed there for the next 12 hours, “staring down” at the area where his son was.

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The mother said it had been very unusual for her son to go out at night.

“All I can say is it’s completely out of character for him to leave and not tell us,” she said.

The accused, who was 15 years old at the time of the melee, is facing a jury trial that began on Thursday after he pleaded not guilty to murdering the 18-year-old, who was stabbed up to six times.

During barrister David Barrow’s opening address on Friday (29 April), he questioned what opportunities others might have had to stab the young man, what opportunities his client had, as well as how truthful the other brawlers had been.

The 18-year-old was assaulted by three adults who arrived at the scene from a party in Duffy in a Triton ute. Mr Barrow said the home of one of these men, a 25-year-old, was raided by police and they found “a large number of knives and fighting-type implements”.

Jurors had to consider whether there was a reasonable possibility that one of these three brought a knife from home and whether there had been an opportunity to stab the dead man, he said.

He expected evidence would say the 18-year-old died close to the driver’s door of his Toyota coupe.

While the accused’s fingerprints were found on the passenger side of the coupe, where he stabbed the 16-year-old cousin in the back, he said there wasn’t such evidence linking him to the driver’s side.

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He alleged many witnesses were “deliberately dishonest about their own involvement and the involvement of those they were with”. When it came to one in particular, he said, “the number of lies that this young man told police is just astounding”.

Mr Barrow said the brawlers had been at the skatepark because of a “nasty, protracted Snapchat argument about not very much” and described the case as a “terrible, senseless tragedy”.

“It was short. It was dark. It was violent,” he said.

Many were intoxicated, he said, and “it’s obvious there were extreme levels of aggression on display”. Jurors would see a video taken by the 25-year-old that was “frankly just horrifying”.

The trial is expected to run for about six weeks before Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

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