Defence questions stabbing victim's changed evidence

9:16 am on 13 July 2016

A key Crown witness has denied she was under pressure despite changing her evidence about seeing her cousin being fatally stabbed outside an Auckland Halloween party.

Luke Tipene

Luke Tipene Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Nadene Manukau-Togiavalu has continued giving evidence at the trial of Vincent Angene Skeen at the High Court in Auckland where Mr Skeen denied a charge of murdering 16-year-old Luke Tipene.

Ms Manukau-Togiavalu was with Mr Tipene at a family dinner and drove him and another cousin to a Grey Lynn party after they were asked to go help a friend who was about to get into a fight.

Ms Manukau-Togiavalu told the court Mr Tipene punched Mr Skeen who had joined in the fight.

She said she then saw Mr Skeen stab her cousin a number of times, despite Mr Tipene saying "that's enough".

But under cross-examination from defence lawyer Michele Wilkinson-Smith, she confirmed her evidence that there had been multiple blows was different from the first trial and from what she had first told police - when she described only seeing one blow.

She denied she was under pressure before Ms Wilkinson-Smith read out some of her posts on Facebook following Mr Skeen's first trial last year.

"With a very broken heart, for the first time, I have opened up a little bit about this tragic night. It was not easy going through step-by-step what unfolded the night we lost my cousin. In front of my family and with great guilt and pain I said exactly what I saw."

Ms Manukau-Togiavalu confirmed she was talking about giving evidence at the trial before Ms Wilkinson-Smith continued reading the post:

"It pains me knowing there was more I could've done to save you and it really hurts knowing I didn't do enough to bring you justice. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, I don't want your sympathy, I simply want you to understand. I have been looked down on, blamed, harassed and even threatened, partially by my own family members."

But Ms Manukau-Togiavalu denied being pressured about what to say and said her statement to the police was given just hours after Mr Tipene had been stabbed and she had to be dragged from the hospital to the police station.

The court also heard from various party-goers, some of whom cannot be named because they are still under 18 years old.

Christian Rauraa was at the party. He said initially there was just one fight between two other teenagers before Luke Tipene and Vincent Skeen started fighting each other.

"Vinnie took his, like ripped his top off, then Luke punched him and he fell to the floor. That's when I saw Vinnie get up and stab him in the throat."

He said Luke Tipene ran past him before falling to the ground and everyone started screaming.

Mr Rauraa confirmed under cross-examination to Ms Wilkinson-Smith that he only saw Mr Skeen hit Mr Tipene once.

Karl Jota had been hanging out with Mr Skeen at the party that night.

He told Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey he saw Mr Skeen rummaging in the back of a parked ute on the side of the road before he heard a bottle smash.

He said Mr Skeen and Mr Tipene then had a fight.

"They were just having a fight. I remember Vincent fell to the ground again. I looked away ... This is when Luke Tipene went past me and I could just see blood coming out ... from his neck."

Mr Jota said Mr Skeen yelled out that he had just stabbed someone before he left the scene, walking at a fast pace.

In contrast, he said he saw Mr Tipene lying on the pavement bleeding and a young woman screaming for an ambulance.

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