Robbery accused says alleged victim pulled gun

A 26-year-old man accused of a robbery after a drug deal went sour says it was the alleged victim who pulled out a gun.

Jamal John Rangi Apataria Couling said the woman who gave evidence on Monday pulled out a pellet gun – an imitation pistol that appeared to be real – and said: “Luckily, I have brought this.”

Couling told the second day of the Christchurch District Court trial that his only role in the June 2017 incident was to try to stop what was happening.

The alleged robbery victim described on Monday how she had declined to go ahead with a transaction to buy cannabis at a Woolston address at nearly midnight, and Couling and two associates had dropped her back at her car.

She then said Couling suddenly yelled, “Let’s do this”, before a 15-year-old girl got an axe and began smashing the windows of the woman’s car. She said Couling then grabbed her by the neck and partially dragged her out of her car where the contents of her bag were scattered and her money was taken.

The jury was told that the other two teenagers have been dealt with in the Youth Court on armed robbery charges after being found with cash.

The Crown says that Couling was also found with cash but he said in evidence that it was his own money which he had because he planned to “score” some drugs himself that night.

Couling denies the aggravated robbery charge and says he did not know what was going to happen and did not take part. His defence counsel Tony Garrett told the jury that the events had unfolded as “a sudden explosion”.

Couling said the woman had changed her mind about doing a drug deal at a Woolston house and asked to be taken back to her parked car. The group did that, but after she got out of their car, she pulled out the imitation gun. He had felt “confused and frightened”.

Couling said the 15-year-old girl then got the axe out of the back of the car – the vehicle owner had it there because he had been chopping wood. She then smashed the windows of the robbery victim’s car with the axe.

Couling said he got out of the car and yelled at her to stop because “it was getting out of control and it was making a big ruckus”.

He said the woman’s evidence was “false” and he had never assaulted her. He also said he did not know that the other two had taken the woman’s money which was found on them later.

The trial is continuing with closing addresses by Crown prosecutor Ruth Harcourt and defence counsel Mr Garrett this afternoon, and then Judge David Saunders will sum up for the jury on Wednesday morning before they retire to consider their verdict.