Glasgow & West Scotland

Uncle 'admitted stabbing' Surjit Singh Chhokar

Surjit Singh Chhokar Image copyright PA
Image caption Surjit Singh Chhokar died in 1998

The nephew of the man on trial for the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar said he heard his uncle confess to stabbing the restaurant worker.

Convicted killer Andrew Coulter, 35, said Ronnie Coulter told him what he had done the night Mr Chhokar died.

Ronnie Coulter denies murdering Mr Chhokar on 4 November 1998 in Overtown, North Lanarkshire.

He is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow for a second time. He was acquitted of the murder in 1999.

Ronnie Coulter, 48, has lodged a special defence blaming his nephew Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery.

Andrew Coulter and Mr Montgomery were tried and acquitted of the murder in 2000.

The court has heard that all three confronted 32-year-old Mr Chhokar following a row about a stolen £100 giro cheque.

Andrew Coulter admitted striking Chhokar on the arm with a home-made bat, but denied stabbing him and said he did not have a knife with him.

'In shock'

He told prosecutor Alex Prentice QC that his uncle came to his flat shortly after the incident in Garrion Street, Wishaw.

Mr Prentice said: "How was he," and Andrew Coulter replied: "Not too good."

The prosecutor then asked: "How did he appear," to which the witness replied: "I don't know how to describe it - shaken."

Mr Prentice asked Andrew Coulter: "Did your uncle say anything to you?" He answered: "Aye, that he had stabbed Chhokar."

Andrew Coulter was asked if he could recall the exact words used by his uncle and said: "Not exactly. I was in shock after that. I couldn't believe it."

He went on to describe Ronnie Coulter as being '"distressed" and added that his uncle had been physically sick.

The witness was asked by Mr Prentice: "How did you feel about the fact a knife had been used?" He replied: "Gutted."

'Getting the blame'

The court heard that Andrew Coulter handed himself in at Wishaw police station on 5 November 1998. He was interviewed and told police he had hit Chhokar with the bat, but claimed there had been no one else with him that night.

Mr Prentice asked him what he was thinking at the time. He replied: "I was going down for a murder that I never committed. I was getting the blame of stabbing him and I never had a knife."

Andrew Coulter was then asked why he did not mention what his uncle had told him to the police and said: "He's my uncle. I was trying to protect him."

The court had heard that Andrew Coulter was a convicted killer who stabbed a man in the leg in September 1999 - just 10 months after the death of Chhokar.

He was sentenced to six years detention for the killing and was later convicted of carrying a knife in 2005 and jailed for six months.

'One-time killer'

Questioned by defence QC Donald Findlay, Andrew Coulter told the Chhokar murder trial he did not kill the waiter.

He said: "If I did it I'd put my hands up to it. I didn't kill him. The man in the dock did it.

"I'm a one-time killer, not a two-time killer."

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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