Glasgow & West Scotland

Chhokar murder trial: Witness denies revenge motive

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

A witness in the Surjit Singh Chhokar murder trial has denied that her evidence was motivated by revenge.

Amelia Clark, 54, from Wishaw was giving evidence in the trial of Ronnie Coulter at the High Court in Glasgow

She told the jury she saw Mr Coulter put something in his jacket pocket shortly after Mr Chhokar was stabbed.

Her son Derek Clark is serving 15 years for attempting to murder Mr Coulter's mother but Mrs Clark denied that she was giving evidence for revenge.

Mr Coulter, from Wishaw, denies murdering 32-year-old Mr Chhokar in Garrion Street, Overtown, North Lanarkshire, on 4 November 1998 by stabbing him.

Delay coming forward

He has lodged a special defence blaming his nephew Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery.

On Tuesday, Mrs Clark gave evidence during the third week of the trial.

The court heard that she only came forward with her evidence on 27 May 2015 - almost 17 years after Mr Chhokar's death.

Explaining the delay, Mrs Clark said: "I didn't want to get involved. I didn't want anything to do with it."

The witness told the court that she was in bed on 4 November 1998 when she heard the sound of running footsteps and then Mr Chhokar's partner, Elizabeth Bryce, shouting: "Leave him alone."

Mrs Clark said that she got out of bed and looked out her window without putting on the light.

She said she saw Andrew Coulter standing alone at the end of the street and Ronnie Coulter and David Montgomery together.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC said: "What did Ronnie Coulter and David Montgomery do," and she replied: "They got to the end of the road and stopped and Ronnie lifted his hands. There was a street light. He turned and put something in his jacket.

"He zipped his jacket up and then he walked towards Main Street. As I was watching him I heard hysterical screaming "He's been stabbed, he's been stabbed."

When asked who was screaming she replied: "Elizabeth Bryce."

Mr Prentice asked: "Did you see anything in his hands," and Mrs Clark replied: "No, I didn't."

Serious injury

She told the court that she then dialled 999.

Referring to Mrs Clark's son's conviction, Mr Prentice asked her: "The injury to Mrs Coulter was a very, very serious injury," and she replied: "Yes."

Mr Prentice then said: "It was a significant blow to the face which resulted in disfigurement and life-threatening injuries.," and Mrs Clark replied: "Yes sir.

The prosecutor then added: "Has that anything to do with your evidence?"

She replied: "No. It has nothing to do with it."

Under cross-examination defence QC Donald Findlay said: "This time you say you are telling the truth. This is simply a revenge attack," and she replied: "Not true sir."

Mrs Clark was read out details of her son's crime by Mr Findlay and told him: "He deserved to go to prison for what he did."

Mr Findlay asked Mrs Clark if it was coincidence that she spoke to police after her son was convicted and she replied: "They told me I had to come to court to giver evidence. I said I'll not go on oath and tell lies. I will say what happened."

Ronnie Coulter has lodged a special defence to the murder charge blaming his nephew Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery.

Both men in evidence denied having anything to do with the killing of Mr Chhokar.

Ronnie Coulter denies all the charges against him.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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