Glasgow & West Scotland

Surjit Singh Chhokar murder trial hears stabbing claims

Surjit Singh Chhokar Image copyright PA

The Surjit Singh Chhokar murder trial has heard that he told his partner he had been stabbed after he was dragged across the street by three men.

The 32-year-old died outside the home of 56-year-old Elizabeth Bryce in Overtown, North Lanarkshire, in 1998.

Ms Bryce told the High Court in Glasgow the three men who dragged Mr Chhokar were Andrew Coulter, David Montgomery and the accused, Ronnie Coulter.

Mr Coulter, 48, denies the charge and has blamed the two other men.

Giving evidence on the second day of the trial, Ms Bryce told the court that she had been in a relationship with Mr Chhokar - whom she called Chhokar - at the time of his death.

He often stayed at her home in Garrion Street, although he had his own flat in Caplaw Tower, in nearby Gowkthrapple.

'Kind of noise'

She told the court that Mr Chhokar arrived outside her home in his blue Ford Orion on the day he died.

As she looked out of the window, he held up a takeaway meal and juice before walking towards the door.

Ms Bryce told the court: "He started walking down to my gate and then I heard a kind of noise."

The jurors were told that at this point Chhokar was out of sight.

Image caption Lawyer Aamer Anwar arriving at court with members of Mr Chhokar's family

Ms Bryce said that when she next saw him, Ronnie Coulter and David Montgomery had one arm each and were dragging him across the street.

Andrew Coulter was said to be walking in front.

Ms Bryce told the court she grabbed a garden spade, ran outside and "shouted at Ronnie and Andrew" about calling the police, after which they went away.

In evidence, she said that as Mr Chhokar was being dragged away he turned to her and said: "They have stabbed me."

'Glistening of a knife'

She said she "saw the glistening of a knife...under the light of the lamp post" but could not say who was holding it.

Ms Bryce said she then saw Mr Chhokar walk across the road and up to his car.

"He leant against his car with two hands on the bonnet...then he made a horrible noise," she said.

"The blood just flew and that was it. He flopped down at the ground. I just could not believe it.

"He was dead, just lying there. I was angry, confused. I wanted to do something, but there was nothing I could do."

Ms Bryce said an ambulance arrived and she travelled to hospital with Mr Chhokar, but he was already dead.

Under cross-examination by defence QC Donald Findlay, Ms Bryce admitted that Mr Chhokar could be violent: "He punched me, slapped me, flung things at me."

She initially denied setting up a meeting between Andrew Coulter and Mr Chhokar on the night he died but admitted she did under further questioning from Mr Findlay.

"I did it and I was stupid," she said. "It was to see if they could sort it out."

Ms Bryce then said again that she could not remember setting up a meeting.

During earlier evidence, the witness told the court that Mr Chhokar, who worked in a local Indian restaurant but also claimed benefits, had gone to his flat on the day he died to collect a giro cheque.

He had discovered the door was kicked in and there was no sign of his giro, for just over £100.

Ms Bryce said: "He told me he had phoned the post office in Overtown and was told it had been cashed by Andrew Coulter."

Alleged threat

The witness told the court she was angry about the missing giro and spoke twice that day to Andrew Coulter's mother, Margaret Chisholm.

On the second occasion she said Andrew Coulter was also there.

She said: "I just said that Andrew had cashed Chhokar's cheque and said there would probably be consequences."

The witness said that Andrew Coulter told her: "If anything happens to me, Chhokar is getting it."

Mr Coulter, 48, from Wishaw, denies killing Mr Chhokar on 4 November 1998 by punching him, hitting him with a wooden baton and stabbing him.

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination to the murder charge, blaming Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery.

He also denies the other charges against him which include forging a giro cheque and stealing a cooker.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.

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