Harrowing scenes in Arun Kumar murder trial

Alex Mason,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jun 2015, 7:47pm
Dairy owner Arun Kumar (Supplied)
Dairy owner Arun Kumar (Supplied)

Harrowing scenes in Arun Kumar murder trial

Alex Mason,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Jun 2015, 7:47pm

Harrowing scenes at the High Court in Auckland in day two of the trial of two teenagers charged over the death of a Henderson dairy owner.

More details have been revealed about what took place on a miserable winter’s morning in June last year, when Arun Kumar was stabbed multiple times in his Henderson store.

Yesterday wrapped up with the Crown delivering its opening statement; this morning it was the Defence’s turn.

A 14 year old boy is charged with murdering Arun Kumar; the Crown said the fact he was ‘the stabber’ is not in dispute, it’s what was in his mind at the time and whether there was ‘murderous intent’.

His defence lawyer Maria Pecotic said in pleading not guilty, the teen said he did not have the knowledge or intention to commit the charges which the Crown argues he did.

She said the boy did not act with murderous intent.

"We know Mr Kumar died but that fact, that consequence, was never anticipated, planned or contemplated."

MORE: Alex Mason speaks to Greg Boyed about the case

A 13 year old is charged with Mr Kumar’s manslaughter.

But defence lawyer Philip Hamlin said the boy, who was 12 at the time, did not have the intention, the meaning or the mindset which the Crown has to prove.

"He didn't mean and had no idea, that the shop keeper would be assaulted, let alone hurt in any way."

This comes after the Crown's argument that the boy knew an assault was likely, when he allegedly came up with the idea to rob the dairy and to arm himself with a pole, while the other boy took a knife.

Philip Hamlin also asked the jury today not to let their emotions interfere with their job.

He urged the dozen jury members to listen carefully to all of the evidence over the coming weeks.

However, emotion was at the forefront of today's proceedings.

Widow overcome with emotion

Mr Kumar’s widow Anita broke down several times while testifying.

During questioning by Crown lawyer Kieran Raftery, Anita Kumar sobbed as she described what unfolded during the violent attack.

"I heard a commotion [in the front of the store] and then I came to look at what was happening, and that's when my husband called out to me to bring the phone so that he could call the cops."

Mrs Kumar went to fetch the phone from the back of the store.

"I came up to the counter and I was passing the phone when the guy hit me and the phone skidded on the floor."

Mr Raftery asked Mrs Kumar if she heard either of the boys say anything.

"The guy on the door was yelling out 'Give us the money! Give us the money!'"

Mrs Kumar says she wrestled a bat or pole from the boy who was standing in the doorway, and tried to fend off the teenager who was attacking her husband with a knife.

"After he had run away I saw blood dripping down, and then I told him that he got hurt."

Mrs Kumar could barely speak as she described how blood began pouring from her husband’s wounds and he collapsed.

A family member could also be heard crying in the public gallery as Mrs Kumar battled through her evidence.

When Mrs Kumar broke down and the questioning session ended, family rushed to comfort her in the witness stand.

It would not be the first time Mrs Kumar was overcome by her emotions, just days away from the first anniversary of her husband's violent death.

She struggled through her tears as Defence lawyer David Niven continually pushed her about her exact movements during the attack on her husband.

He pressed her on what she had told police on the day of the murder, compared with details which she spoke of in court today.

"The day the statement was taken by the police was the day I had lost my husband and I was really shocked.

"So half of the time I don't even know what I was saying."

The trial had to be briefly adjourned twice, to give Mrs Kumar a break and time to compose herself.

More witnesses testify

More witnesses were called today, including Kylie Hoppenjans who owns Cafe Cucina; a business a few doors up the road from the dairy.

She spoke of seeing two youths loitering outside that morning.

The court also heard evidence from Paul Mullen, a local man who visits the Railside Dairy every morning to pick up a newspaper and milk.

He also described seeing two youths outside the dairy that morning, and he said they were behaving unusually.

He said the younger of the pair looked ‘quite hyped’.

"He was going up and down on the balls of his feet. It looked like the older guy was sort of trying to hype him up."

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Julie-Ann Kincade asked whether this bouncing could have been due to the cold weather that winter morning.

Mr Mullen admitted it could have been.

But he said there was something about their behaviour which stayed with him.

"And I do remember going to work and thinking that was a bit unusual, but not thinking anything further because nothing had happened."

A transient Henderson man described watching the two young teenagers spar in the weeks before they allegedly killed Mr Kumar.

Robert Watene told the High Court at Auckland he frequently saw the pair sparring outside a library.

He said while their fighting at first looked comical, it became more precise, with a focus on a strange move in the days leading up to the murder.

"Four days beforehand I noticed a strike to the jaw that never appeared to actually hit the jaw.

"And in fact it bent the knuckles of the fist away from the actual face."

He said he noticed them practicing closed fist movements - one aimed at the abdominal region, one to the side near the kidneys

"I'd been seeing them for about two weeks, but then in the last four days they sharpened up."

Arun Kumar was stabbed under his ribs, in the back and in the neck.

But under cross-examination, defence lawyer Julie-Anne Kincade questioned by Watene’s credibility.

She says Mr Watene only gave the police his information 10 days after the murder, when he was arrested for an unrelated incident.

She said still photographs of CCTV footage taken outside the library do not show any evidence of the boys fighting, and argues that Mr Watene made up his evidence to get out of his own tricky situation.

Mr Watene will again take the stand tomorrow morning, for the final part of his cross-examination.

The court will then call another witness – a third youth who tagged along to the dairy with the two accused on that fateful day.