Glasgow & West Scotland

Surjit Singh Chhokar murder trial: Woman 'too distraught to name attackers'

Surjit Singh Chhokar Image copyright PA

A woman has told the Surjit Singh Chhokar murder trial she did not tell police who attacked her partner because she was "distraught".

Elizabeth Bryce originally told officers the name of just one of the three men she claims carried out the attack, Andrew Coulter.

She has now named the two others as Ronnie Coulter and David Montgomery.

Ronnie Coulter, 48, denies murdering Mr Chhokar, of Gowkthrapple, North Lanarkshire, and blames the other men.

Ms Bryce, 56, was giving evidence on the second day of the murder trial.

Ronnie Coulter's defence agent Donald Findlay QC asked her why she did not tell police who was responsible.

'Tailoring evidence'

She said: "I was distraught. At the time I wasn't thinking. I was distraught at my man lying dead at my feet."

She told Mr Findlay she knew who all three men were but named Andrew Coulter as she was "angry" at him.

Ms Bryce previously told the court she had confronted him on the day of 32-year-old Mr Chhokar's death as her partner had spoken of a missing giro cheque.

She said, after making inquiries, he told her he understood it had been cashed at the post office by Andrew Coulter.

Mr Findlay accused her of "tailoring her evidence" and put it to her she had changed her partner's final words.

The court heard in a police statement, taken the day after Mr Chhokar's death, Ms Bryce said his last words were "I've been stabbed". But in court she said he actually told her "they stabbed me".

Ms Bryce denied tailoring her evidence.

Questioned by Mr Findlay, she said she had "probably told a few lies but not in the case of what happened to Chhokar".

She also admitted having a conviction for £13,000 benefit fraud, saying it was "not relevant to this case".

'Blood flew out'

Mr Findlay questioned her claim that she saw both Coulters and David Montgomery walking past her window twice that day.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, she said she grabbed a garden spade and ran outside her home in Garrion Street, Wishaw, to confront the Coulters and David Montgomery, who she said were dragging her partner across the street.

She said the "blood just flew out" of Mr Chhokar and he fell down dead.

Ronnie Coulter denies murdering Mr Chhokar by repeatedly attacking him with a knife or a similar weapon and a further charge of forging Mr Chhokar's signature on a £100 giro cheque.

He also denies breaking into Mr Chhokar's home at Caplaw Tower, Gowkthrapple, on the day of his death and stealing a cooker and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by destroying or disposing of a knife and clothing.

The trial before Lord Matthews continues.

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