Gang trial accused was ‘shocked by violence’

A man who went with Bandidos gang associates to the scene of a multiple stabbing had been “shocked and surprised” when the bloody violence erupted, the defence said at the trial of two Christchurch men.

One of the stabbing victims was described at the trial as having “a curtain of blood streaming out of him” during the attack.

The Christchurch District Court jury trial has been told that when Alvin Ritesh Kumar saw wounds and blood he went into shock, and began hyperventilating.

Defence counsel Richard Maze delivered his defence closing address to the jury on day six of the trial, acknowledging that Kumar had been present at the scene of the stabbings at a housebus on a Johns Road property near Christchurch on August 30, 2015.

Two people involved in the incident, Nicholas Andrew Hanson, 31, a gang prospect, and Stephanie Jane McGrath, 27, have already admitted charges of wounding two men and assaulting a woman in the incident.

Two other people the Crown says were present – Kumar, a 34-year-old factory hand from Woolston, and Jessie James Winter, 29 – are on trial on the same charges and accused of being part of the common plan to commit a serious assault.

Mr Maze said the jury could only conclude that that Kumar knew of a common purpose if he knew that Hanson was armed. But there was no evidence that Kumar knew that Hanson was carrying a knife when the group of four drove from a Hornby address to Johns Road. “Knowledge of the knife is critical,” he said.

McGrath had obtained a marriage licence to marry a man the next day, but after a dispute with the intended groom she had contacted Hanson. The other men were then contacted before the group went to the housebus and the attacks took place when it was found the intended groom was not there.

There had already been threats by phone or text early in the day to slash the groom or cut his throat.

Mr Maze said it was obvious that Kumar was surprised by what happened.

“You cannot be satisfied that Kumar knew that Hanson or anyone else was armed with the knife, or that he had contemplated serious violence of the type of magnitude that was meted out,” he said.

When police found him in the car used by the group 20min later, he had lied and said he had been on a Tinder date with McGrath. He had continued to lie when interviewed by police next day.

“People lie for all sorts of reasons. He had just witnessed Hanson ‘go apeshit’. He had seen him set forth in a frenzied attack on three innocent people. It is clear that Hanson is loyal to his friends, but terrible to his enemies. Would you cross him?” he asked the jury.

He said Kumar was not a gang member and was “hardly the heavy artillery that someone like Mr Hanson would call on, in the event of a stouch”.

The Crown had alleged that someone referred to in the evidence as “Scruffy” was Winter and he was present at the attack. Counsel for Winter, Andrew Bailey, told the jury that if they concluded he was there, they must decide whether he knew knives were involved and whether he foresaw that Hanson would attack someone with a knife.

“There was no need to try to wound these people, and only one person did it,” he said. “This was not a planned event.”

The Crown has completed its evidence and no defence evidence was called.

Crown prosecutor Donald Matthews said there was no doubt that Kumar and Winter had “willingly joined themselves to the plan for a surprise attack, late at night, involving four gang associates and where knives were involved”.

The jury had to decide whether the Crown had satisfied them that Kumar and Winter were “part of the common plan” for a serious assault at the scene, and would have known the probable consequences of that plan.

He said Winter, who was McGrath’s half brother, texted his girlfriend that was “going for a mish (mission) baby”, and also wrote in another text, “He’s over”.

Mr Matthews asked why it was necessary to have four people present unless there was an intention to use violence and physically overpower the intended victim. “They wanted force of numbers because something more than just threats or intimidation was planned.”

The phone calls and text messages showed that the group had gathered in Hornby, and then left in a car when they were armed with knives and intent on violence, he said.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll will sum up for the jury from 10am today.

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