Glasgow & West Scotland

Chhokar murder trial: Accused 'spoke of harming victim'

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

A man accused of the 1998 murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar laughed and joked with his nephew as they discussed harming him, a court has heard.

Donna Campbell, 33, told the High Court in Glasgow that Ronnie and Andrew Coulter made the comments on the day that Mr Chhokar was fatally stabbed.

She was giving evidence in the trial of Ronnie Coulter, who denies murder.

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

Mr Coulter, 48, from Wishaw, denies murdering 32-year-old Mr Chhokar in Garrion Street, Overtown, North Lanarkshire, on 4 November 1998 by stabbing him.

Giving evidence during the third week of the trial, Ms Campbell told prosecutor Alex Prentice QC that she was in Ronnie Coulter's flat in Caplaw Towers, Overtown, on the evening of 4 November 1998.

'Hit with a bat'

She was 15 at the time and had been Andrew Coulter's girlfriend for a couple of weeks.

The court was told that Ms Campbell and a friend, Corrine Chambers, were in the flat with Ronnie and Andrew Coulter and the men were talking about meeting Mr Chhokar later that night concerning a £100 Giro cheque.

Initially when she was asked about the conversation Ms Campbell said: "I can't remember. I just remember laughing and joking about Chhokar.

Mr Prentice asked: "What was said," and she replied: "It was about Chhokar getting hit on the knees with a bat."

She was asked what else was said and said she could not remember.

Mr Prentice took her through a statement she gave to police on 3 August 2012 in which she stated: "Ronnie and Andrew were laughing and joking about going to see Chhokar.

"I remember one of them, either Ronnie or Andrew, saying they were going to batter him."

He asked if that was the truth.

Miss Campbell replied: "Yes."

She was then asked if she could remember anything else of the conversation and said: "There was something about throwing Chhokar off a bridge."

Unpleasant conversation

Under cross-examination, defence QC Donald Findlay said to Ms Campbell: "You have described a conversation between Ronnie and Andrew which was not a particularly nice conversation," and she replied: "No."

Mr Findlay went on: "You said it was joking or light-hearted," and Ms Campbell agreed.

The QC added: "You did not at the time think you were listening to a conversation talking about going off to do serious violence to another person," and she replied: "Not really."

Mr Finlay went on: "What you had were two men talking big to impress two young girls," and Ms Campbell said: "Probably."

The jury has already heard that Ronnie and Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery went to meet Mr Chhokar at 23:30 in Garrion Street.

They encountered him as he arrived home by car after finishing a shift at the restaurant where he worked.

Minutes later he lay dying in the street.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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