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Investigations reporter Bob Wylie
"Ronnie Coulter appeared as a special prosecution witnes"
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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 18:54 GMT
Chhokar trial witness called 'murderer'
High Court in Glasgow
The case is being heard at the High Court in Glasgow
A witness in the trial of two men charged with killing an Indian waiter has been accused in court of being a "murderer" and a "liar".

Ronnie Coulter, 32, is being blamed for killing Surjit Singh Chhokar in a special defence of incrimination by his nephew Andrew Coulter, 19 and David Montgomery, 23.

The two men are standing trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

On Friday, before the jury, Mr Coulter was accused by defence lawyers of being a murderer.

David Ogg QC, representing Mr Montgomery, described the witness's evidence as "rubbish", adding: "It's no wonder, is it, that you didn't give evidence to the jury in your own trial?"

The witness box is a lonely place when you're a liar, and you are the liar

Paul McBride QC
Mr Coulter, of Wishaw, Lanarkshire, was acquitted in March 1999 of murdering Mr Chhokar, who died of stab wounds after being attacked in Overtown, in November 1998.

Paul McBride QC, representing Andrew Coulter, directly accused Ronnie Coulter of being the killer and making up his evidence to the police.

He said: "The witness box is a lonely place when you're a liar, and you are the liar.

"You just make it up when you go along, and that's why you haven't been prepared to tell your tale of what happened that night."

Mr McBride said the witness had refused to answer 301 questions when interviewed by police about the killing.

"The reason you didn't tell the police what happened that night, the reason you contacted a lawyer before you went to see the police, the reason you didn't give evidence at your own trial, is because you know you are a murderer," Mr McBride added.

Missing knife

Mr Coulter was also quizzed about the whereabouts of a knife missing from a set kept in his kitchen.

He was asked by advocate-depute Sean Murphy why he had given the knives to his former girlfriend Sandra Tierney the day after Mr Chhokar died.

At first Mr Coulter claimed he had decided to give the knives away that day, but later said: "I don't remember if it was a few days before or on the day."

Ronnie Coulter was acquitted of murder but convicted of serious assault during his trial in 1999.

Surjit Singh Chhokar
Surjit Singh Chhokar: Died in 1998
Questioned about the attack on 32-year-old Mr Chhokar, Mr Coulter said it had been "just a struggle" and claimed he had intervened to try to stop his nephew and Mr Montgomery.

The court was told that after the incident, Ronnie Coulter went to his ex-girlfriend's house where he washed the clothes he was wearing, including his jacket and shoes, and Andrew Coulter's clothes.

He said he had asked Miss Tierney to take the clothes away the next morning out of "panic", adding: "I just told her to take them out of the house."

Mr Ogg claimed Mr Coulter's wet clothing and the knife set were later dumped in woodland "off the beaten track".

"Could it be that in fact, you got her around to take these clothes away out of the house because you thought they would incriminate you as a murderer?" Mr Ogg asked.

Ronnie Coulter replied: "No."

Not guilty pleas

Andrew Coulter, from Wishaw, denies breaking into Mr Chhokar's home and stealing a cooker and an unemployment benefit cheque and has also named Ronnie Coulter as responsible. He also denies a charge of fraud.

Mr Montgomery, from Motherwell, has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Mr McBride told the jury Ronnie Coulter had asked his sister, Margaret Chisholm, to buy a replacement for the missing knife when he was in prison awaiting trial.

He then asked his lawyer to arrange for a search of the house to find the knife, which Mrs Chisholm was supposed to place in a kitchen drawer, Mr McBride claimed.

But his sister had failed to find a matching set and no knife was found by police.

Mr McBride concluded: "You are a remorseless murderer and a liar who rather than face up to what he has done, would have others take the blame."

The trial continues on Monday.

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15 Nov 00 | Scotland
Waiter 'dragged away' to his death
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