Glasgow & West Scotland

Chhokar murder trial: Witness says she 'has brain fog'

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

A witness at the Surjit Singh Chhokar murder trial has been unable to recall telling previous trials that the accused asked her to dispose of knives.

Alexandra Tierney, 47, is an ex-girlfriend of Ronnie Coulter, who is accused of murdering Mr Chhokar.

She told the High Court in Glasgow she had told the truth at previous trials, but said could not recall the evidence due to an illness-related "brain fog".

Mr Coulter denies murdering Mr Chhokar in 1998 and has blamed two other men.

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

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

The court has already heard that he was previously cleared of the murder following a trial in 1999.

'No memory'

The jury has also heard that the men he is blaming, Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery, were also cleared of the murder following a trial in 2000.

On Thursday, the court heard that Ms Tierney - known as Sandra - gave evidence at both trials.

She was asked by prosecutor Alex Prentice QC: "Do you remember giving evidence in the trial of Ronnie Coulter," and replied: "No."

The prosecutor then asked: "You have no memory of giving evidence in the trial of Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery," and Ms Tierney responded: "No."

The witness was asked why she had no memory of this and said: "I just can't remember. I've done my hardest to black it out."

She then told the jury she had 'brain fog" caused by illnesses and medication she takes.

Ms Tierney said that she suffers from Dercum's disease and was asked how that affected her memory and replied: "It can cause brain fog. There are no consultants in Britain. The only consultant you can see is in the US."

She was asked by Mr Prentice how she knew this illness affected memory and said: "I learned from a website because there's not a doctor in the UK that deals with it."

Ms Tierney was read transcripts from the previous trials and agreed that she was telling the truth during both.

She told those trials that Ronnie Coulter asked her to dispose of a black bag of wet clothes and a box containing knives the day after Mr Chhokar died.

'I forget'

Speaking of her memory loss, Ms Tierney said: "I forget people's names. I can't tell you what I done last week. I can hardly tell you anything about growing up."

Mr Prentice asked if she told Joseph Buchanan - the man she asked to help her dispose of the clothes and the knife box - anything about the stabbing and she replied: "I can't remember."

The QC then asked her: "Did you say to him it was Ronnie your ex-man that done the stabbing?' and Ms Tierney replied: "I can't remember."

Mr Prentice then said: "Might you have said that," and she responded: "No."

She was asked how she knew she had not and replied: "I never ever asked who done it. I was never told what happened that night."

Ms Tierney told the court that she was in a relationship with Ronnie Coulter for five years and had a son by him. They broke up when their child, who is now 22, was around a year old.

Defence QC Donald Findlay asked: "Your break up was not particularly friendly?" She replied: "No."

Mr Findlay then asked: "Ronnie Coulter never said anything to you to suggest he was in any way responsible for the death of Chhokar?" and Ms Tierney replied: "No."

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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