23 Jan 2009

Accused 'drinking heavily' the night store owner killed

7:20 am on 23 January 2009

The Manukau District Court has been told seven men charged in relation the killing of a liquor store owner were drinking heavily on the day he was attacked.

Navtej Singh, 30, was fatally wounded during an aggravated robbery at his store in June last year.

Anitelea Kee, Jason Naseri, Myron Felise and Tino Felise are charged with Mr Singh's murder.

Eti Filoa and Walter McCarthy are charged with armed robbery, while Mefiposeta Kee is charged with disposing of evidence.

Rapture Tafeamalii, 18, told a depositions hearing at Manukau District Court on Thursday that, on the day of the attack, he had been drinking with others in the garage of a South Auckland address since 4pm.

Mr Tafeamalii said they ran out of alcohol about 8pm at which time they discussed "doing a run " to get more.

He says some of those present were also smoking cannabis.

Mr Tafeamalii told the hearing that some of the men had been preaching to the others not to rob the liquor store before they left.

Earlier, another witness told the hearing she tried to wash her fingerprints off a till stolen from Mr Singh's store.

Rachel Va'a said she knew the accused and found the till in one of their cars.

Ms Va'a told the hearing she became scared when she learned of the death of Mr Singh, as she had taken money from the till.

She said she pleaded with the accused not to tell anyone and scrubbed the till in a bath full of soapy water to remove her fingerprints.

Ms Va'a told the court the accused had considered moving to Australia to avoid being caught.