Axe used in drug-deal robbery, Crown says

A woman has told how her car’s windows were smashed with an axe while she was inside it and she was robbed of her cash after a late night drug deal went sour.

She told a Christchurch District Court trial that she was dragged half out of her car door by the alleged offender who is now on trial, Jamal John Rangi Apataria Couling, while a girl aged 15 swung the axe at her windows.

“She kind of went nuts on my car,” said the alleged robbery victim at the start of the three-day trial before Judge David Saunders and a jury.

The girl and another teenager have already admitted their roles in the incident on a street in Woolston about midnight on June 17, 2017.

The Crown says Couling, 36, was also involved in the armed robbery and have charged him with being a principal offender, and with being a party to the offence. Couling denies the charge.

Crown prosecutor Ruth Harcourt said the victim “was attacked and robbed in terrifying circumstances late at night”.

But defence counsel Tony Garrett said questions of credibility would arise. He asked the jury to keep an open mind as they heard the evidence about this dispute over the drug deal. “In this kind of murky world, things can happen quickly – they can explode or implode as they did in this case.”

The woman told the jury there had been a lot going on in her life and “I smoke weed to go to sleep”.

She contacted Couling, who she had known as an acquaintance for about five years, during the day to see if he could help her buy some cannabis.

He gave her contact details, and she arranged a meeting with someone in Woolston that night through Facebook or a text message. When she turned up no-one was there, but she phoned and was told the woman was on her way, with Couling.

When they arrived, she got into their vehicle and they drove her to another street nearby where there was a “massive argument” about who was going to go in and get the drugs for her.

“I thought, this is obviously a set up, so I asked them to take me back to my car.”

They did that, but when she was in her car, she heard Couling yell, “Let’s do this”. She then saw the teenager advance on her car with the axe and swing it, smashing her driver’s window.

Couling then dragged her half out of the car through the passenger door as she tried to avoid the axe.

She received a heavy blow to the back of her head, which split her head, and her shoulder “popped out” during the struggle. The third person involved joined in with Couling and took her money — $200 or $250 in $50 notes.

Miss Harcourt told the jury police found the trio at an address nearby later that night. They were found with cash.

The trial is continuing.