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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 17:46 GMT
Lawyer tells of 'evil killer'
Chhokar picture against High Court in Glasgow
The Chhokar trial is at the High Court in Glasgow
An "evil and calculating man" killed Indian waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar, the High Court in Glasgow has been told.

Defence advocate Paul McBride QC made the claim during his closing speech at the trial of two men accused of murdering Mr Chhokar.

David Montgomery, 23, and Andrew Coulter, 19, deny the charge and have lodged a special defence accusing another man, Ronnie Coulter, of committing the murder.

Ronnie Coulter, 32, was acquitted of the killing at an earlier trial.

Chhokar family
The dead man's family are attending the trial
Mr McBride, acting on behalf of Andrew Coulter, said that while the dead man's grieving parents were sitting in court, Ronnie Coulter was "sitting at home laughing".

He went on to claim that the legal system had failed the Chhokar family when Ronnie Coulter, Andrew Coulter's uncle, was acquitted.

But Sean Murphy, for the prosecution, told the jury that it was not Ronnie Coulter who was on trial and that he had already been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr Murphy said there was evidence that Ronnie Coulter, and the two accused, had held Mr Chhokar.

He went on to say that Andrew Coulter had stabbed Mr Chhokar and Mr Montgomery had gripped the victim's arm.

Key witnesses

Mr Murphy asked the jury to convict both of the murder.

Mr McBride said the Crown had prosecuted Ronnie Coulter on his own last year but he had been found guilty only of assault.

Three key witnesses did not give evidence at the first trial, but had testified this time.

He told the jury: "If they had been called at Ronnie Coulter's trial you would not be here today because he would be serving a life sentence.

Chhokar death scene
The scene of Mr Chhokar's death
"The Crown say Ronnie Coulter is not on trial here.

"They did not get him the first time round and they should have got him.

"Now the Crown say you can change your mind with the present two accused."

He said the evidence pointed overwhelmingly to Ronnie Coulter's guilt and the most they could convict Andrew Coulter of was an assault with a bat.

"To hit someone with a bat is not very nice but the injury was a minor one to the neck and it is a far cry from murder," he said.

'Perfect murder'

Mr McBride said there was a miscarriage of justice at Ronnie Coulter's trial and he asked the jury not to make another one and to acquit Andrew Coulter.

Derek Ogg, QC for Montgomery, said there was reliable evidence that the accused did not even have a hold of Mr Chhokar.

He reminded the jury about evidence that Ronnie Coulter had bragged about carrying out the "perfect murder" after his acquittal.

The trial continues.

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See also:

24 Nov 00 | Scotland
Trial told of 'stabbing' phone call
22 Nov 00 | Scotland
Murder trial hears from drug addict
20 Nov 00 | Scotland
'Heart wound killed waiter'
15 Nov 00 | Scotland
Waiter 'dragged away' to his death
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