21 September 2021

Weston Creek skatepark brawlers faced alleged 'reprisals' after 18-year-old's death, court told

| Albert McKnight
Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Steel at the Weston Creek skatepark.

Detective Acting Superintendent Mark Steel, right, discusses the incident with a police officer at the Weston Creek skatepark. Photo: Michael Weaver.

The ACT Magistrates Court has heard accusations that several young people involved in a fatal brawl at the Weston Creek skatepark have been victims of alleged revenge attacks.

An 18-year-old man was stabbed to death on 27 September 2020 and a teenager, then aged 15, has pleaded not guilty to his murder.

Six brawlers appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court for a sentencing hearing on Monday (20 September) where Jason Moffett from Key Chambers alleged there had been “significant reprisals” and “vigilante justice” against some offenders and their families.

Mr Moffett, appearing for a teenager Region Media has called David, alleged there had been an arson attack at the home of his client’s parents which resulted in significant roof damage.

He alleged there was an attempted “firebomb” at the property and two men had also tried to enter the home.

John Purnell SC said what had happened to his client, Montgomery Cole White, and his family since the fight was “appalling”.

READ ALSO Third man admits to role in fatal Weston Creek skatepark brawl

He claimed there had been “drive-bys”, cars set on fire, bricks thrown and even a Molotov cocktail thrown causing fear to his client and his family.

The barrister for a teen the Region Media has called Tim, Steven Whybrow of Key Chambers, also alleged one of the defendants had been assaulted after a court appearance.

Prosecutor Morgan Howe said he would not challenge Mr Moffett’s submissions, but the matter was an ongoing investigation.

Jaxson Dillon Kirkwood and supporters leaving court

Jaxson Dillon Kirkwood (centre) leaves the ACT Court with a group of supporters earlier this year. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Agreed court documents show Jack, a pseudonym, and Tim began messaging each other over Snapchat while they were at separate parties on the evening of 26 September 2020. The messages became abusive.

“I’ll f–king kill your family c–t,” Jack said in one.

Mr Whybrow said the “very juvenile” and “provocative” messages between the two 16-year-olds resulted in an agreement to meet at the skatepark for a “fist fight”.

Jack organised for the 18-year-old victim to drive him and two others to the fight in his Toyota 86 coupe, while Tim and another teen were collected by a girl driving a Toyota Corolla. They picked up the 15-year-old murder accused on their way.

Mr Whybrow said they both brought along back-up, in case the fight started to get out of hand, and it was like “an after-school fight that occurred at midnight”.

Emmanuel Umunakwe, 19, was asked to come along by Tim’s friend “in case things just went south”, so 17-year-old David drove him, 25-year-old Jaxson Dillon Kirkwood and 18-year-old White in White’s Mitsubishi Triton ute to the skatepark.

READ ALSO Teen who murdered 82-year-old in ‘nightmarish attack’ has his jailtime almost halved

Once everyone had arrived, Tim and another 17-year-old approached the Toyota 86. Mr Whybrow said Tim punched Jack, leaving him with facial injuries, before Jack kicked him in the groin.

Around the same time, White and Kirkwood pulled the victim out of the 86. Mr Howe said White punched him in the face and ribs while Kirkwood punched him about five times. Umunakwe attempted to pull the victim off White, before letting go.

A 16-year-old in the Toyota 86 began brandishing a machete, then Kirkwood, White and Umunakwe went to the Triton and grabbed a pickaxe, shovel and plastic rake respectively and used the tools to smash the 86. The car was later written off.

During the fight, the 18-year-old victim was stabbed to death and Jack was stabbed in his lower back and hip.

Neither White, Kirkwood, Umunakwe, Tim or David, who all pleaded guilty to their charges of assault and affray, are accused of killing the victim or causing these injuries.

In court, James Sabharwahl, of Burley Griffin Chambers, appearing for Jack who was also charged with affray, suggested his client had suffered extra-curial punishment as he had been injured in the fight.

READ ALSO Family details pain after boy loses leg, spends month in coma after horrific car crash

Paul Edmonds, of Canberra Criminal Law, representing Kirkwood, accepted his client had made a concerning comment to the author of a court duty report, that “if it was necessary to defend his friends in the future he would willingly do so”.

He said this comment indicated the “relative immaturity” of Kirkwood and demonstrated a “very self-centred approach” when not considering the impact of his actions on others, but not that he would “unhesitatingly charge straight in” to a similar incident like at the skatepark.

Umunakwe’s barrister, Margaret Jones of Canberra Chambers, said her client was at risk of deportation because if he was sentenced to 12 months or more in jail there would be a mandatory cancellation of his protection visa.

She said he moved from Nigeria to Australia with his diplomat father when he was nine years old and they were granted asylum. She said he suffered from “significant racism” at school.

The six defendants will be sentenced on 30 September. Bail will continue until then.

Tim, Jack and David cannot have their real names published as they were aged under 18 at the time of the fight.

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