Teen ‘did not tell truth’ to gardaí investigating fatal stabbing, court hears

Youth admits manslaughter but denies murder of Azzam Raguragui (18) in Dublin

Azzam Raguragui: fatally stabbed at Finsbury Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on May 10th, 2019

Azzam Raguragui: fatally stabbed at Finsbury Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on May 10th, 2019

 

A friend of a teenager accused of murdering another teen during a row in a Dublin park has told the Central Criminal Court he did not tell gardaí the truth when giving a statement two days after the fatal stabbing.

The witness, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, has told the trial he brought the knife used in the fatal attack. He said the accused only realised he had a knife when they arrived at the park and took it from the witness because he did not want them to get into trouble.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, the witness agreed with prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC that in his statement to gardaí two days after the incident, he said the accused had brought the knife to the witnesses’ home earlier that day and showed it around.

He further told gardaí that the accused told him to hold the knife until they got to Dundrum and to give it to him when they arrived.

The statement continued: “Just a few seconds before Finsbury Park I took it out of my tracksuit bottoms and put it in [the accused’s] pocket. The reason I did this was he told me to give it to him.”

Giving evidence on Tuesday, he said part of his statement was not true and that he had lied because he was afraid he would get into trouble.

When asked by defence counsel Michael Bowman SC why he did not take responsibility at the time, he said: “After everything that had happened I was terrified and didn’t know what to say or do because my head was melted.”

The 17-year-old accused has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to the murder of 18-year-old Azzam Raguragui at Finsbury Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on May 10th, 2019. Mr Raguragui was stabbed five times.

The witness told Mr Dwyer that he was with a group of friends and saw another group of older teens including the deceased at Finsbury Park that evening.

There was an allegation that Mr Raguragui had warned a member of the witnesses’ group that he was a “dead man” arising out of a row over a stolen bicycle. He said a conversation was going between Mr Raguragui and two members of his own group when a member of Mr Raguragui’s group punched one of the witnesses’ friends from behind, knocking him to the ground.

A fight broke out, he said, and he tried to push one of the older boy away but was struck on the nose.

“I didn’t see them but I did get hit by two other people as well. There was a scream. The fighting stopped after that.”

He saw the deceased for a brief moment. He was on his back, the witness, said, holding his chest.

After the fighting stopped he said he saw the accused holding a knife but told Mr Dwyer he couldn’t remember what the accused said.

He agreed that in his statement he had told gardai: “He [the accused] looked angry and he was angry because Azzam had said to him: ‘Remember my face.’ [The accused] was holding the knife screaming: ‘Am I going to remember your face? Am I?’”

Under cross-examination, the witness said he was at home alone earlier that day and playing with the knife, carving his initials into the wooden part of his own bed.

When he heard a knock on the door he put the knife in his pocket and went to see who it was. It was the accused.

They left the house together at about 6.30pm and he only realised he still had the knife in his pocket later on as they entered Finsbury Park and saw the other group.

When asked why he told a different story to gardaí he said: “Because I was afraid at the time of the statement that I was going to get into trouble.”

He did not take responsibility, he said, because, “after everything that had happened I was terrified and didn’t know what to say or do because my head was melted.”

Describing the moment when he said his friend took the knife from him he said: “We had been walking up and were looking towards them and I realised the knife had been in my pocket from earlier and [the accused] took it off me and said, give me that just in case something happens. He took it off me because he didn’t want us to get into trouble.”

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of six men and six women.