13 December 2022

Trial starts against man accused of destroying evidence from fatal Weston Creek skatepark brawl

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Courts

A man is fighting a charge of destroying or concealing evidence at an ACT Supreme Court trial. Photo: Albert McKnight.

When a group of brawlers had gathered together and one allegedly said he had “stabbed people or someone” during the fight at the Weston Creek skatepark, it was then that “it started to get real” for those involved, a prosecutor has told a jury.

Jurors heard the boy who allegedly made the comment, who would later plead guilty to causing grievous bodily harm due to stabbing a person, had also picked up a hat from the scene.

An 18-year-old allegedly said to him, “s-t, what are you? Stupid”, grabbed the hat, put it in a bag and later burnt it.

While the then-18-year-old accused was not involved in the skatepark fight on 27 September 2020, he has pleaded not guilty to a charge of destroying or concealing evidence in an ACT Supreme Court trial that started on Monday (12 December) due to what allegedly happened to this item of clothing.

Prosecutor Trent Hickey said the morning after the brawl, the accused’s mother told him someone had died at Weston.

He said later that day that some of those who had gone to the fight, including the stabber, met up at the accused’s house and “started to spill the beans about what happened”, telling him how there had been a fight, someone had died and the stabber had a knife at the scene.

The stabber allegedly said he “stabbed people or someone” but wouldn’t hand himself in, while another boy started asking what they were going to do before the hat was brought out and the accused took it.

A few days later, the accused set the bag and the hat that was inside it on fire in his backyard.

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Mr Hickey said police later searched his house, but he alleged the accused did not tell them what he knew or that he’d had the hat.

A couple of days later, on 30 September, police interviewed him, but it is alleged he still didn’t mention the hat.

But police searched his house again on 6 November 2022 and told him they’d been tipped off about it. He allegedly eventually said, “Okay, I f-king did it; I burnt the hat”.

They asked why and he allegedly said it was because he was “trying to be loyal to a mate” as he wanted to protect the stabber. He also allegedly said he wanted to get rid of it and get it out of his home.

Mr Hickey said at that stage, the hat had been significant to the investigation as it could have linked the stabber and others to the brawl.

Barrister Travis Jackson, representing the accused, told the 12 jurors that much of what Mr Hickey had said was agreed, but he questioned his client’s state of mind in the days after the brawl.

“You effectively have to put yourselves in [the accused’s] shoes,” he said.

Mr Jackson said the accused wasn’t involved “in any way” in the fight, and while he became aware someone had died, he didn’t know that person.

He argued the hat could have been evidence for the investigation, but it wasn’t certain that it would have been.

He also said his client had found himself in a situation created by others and it was understandable a then-18-year-old like him wouldn’t want to be involved.

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The stabber was one of the witnesses called to testify. While he admitted stabbing a person and causing grievous bodily harm to them, he repeatedly said he could not remember events when Mr Hickey asked him questions.

Mr Hickey read from transcripts of his evidence from previous court proceedings in May 2022, in which the stabber said the accused had told him, “just give it here” when talking about the hat.

The stabber did tell the court that he now knew the hat had belonged to the person he stabbed.

The trial will likely run for three days before Chief Justice Lucy McCallum.

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