Patrice Dougan

Patrice Dougan is a NZME. News Service reporter based in Auckland.

Homeless man murder: Accused seen high-fiving mates

Edwin Linder.
Edwin Linder.

A teenager accused of murdering a homeless man in central Auckland last year was seen on CCTV footage hugging and high-fiving his friends moments after it is alleged the attack took place.

Edwin Linder, 42, died in hospital three days after the early morning assault in Mills Lane. He had lain in the alleyway unconscious for around eight hours before he was found.

Steven Churchis, who was 17 at the time of his arrest, is standing trial at the High Court in Auckland charged with murdering Mr Linder.

He was captured on CCTV footage with his two friends and a young woman walking down Mills Lane shortly before 12.30am on July 31, 2013.

In the footage, which was shown in court today, the group walks down the lane and around a corner to a part of the street which is out of range of the cameras, and where Mr Linder was found the next day.

Churchis and the young woman make a quick trip to Burger King on Queen St to use the bathrooms, before re-joining the two friends.

Around three minutes later the young woman leaves, followed shortly afterwards by the three young men; Churchis bringing up the rear.

As he approaches his two friends, one of them lifts his hand up and the pair are seen to share "some sort of embrace". He then high-fives the second friend.

The three men later return to the scene around 6.30am, where they again disappear out of range before walking out of the lane towards Albert St.

Constable Raymond Arrow, who reviewed all the CCTV footage of the scene, said no-one else entered the lane during that time.

Mr Linder was found shortly before 9am and was taken to Auckland City Hospital where he died on August 3 after developing pneumonia as a secondary cause of his brain injuries.

A doctor who treated Mr Linder gave evidence that his prognosis was "very poor" when he was admitted to intensive care.

"We could not say he had any chance of making a good survival," said Dr Craig Hourigan of the department of critical care.

He suffered severe brain and facial injuries, and combined with a previous head injury he sustained when he was stabbed with a screwdriver in Sydney in 2001, it was unlikely he would live, he said.

If he had survived, he would have been severely disabled.

Dr Hourigan denied Mr Linder died because of a decision made by his family and medical staff not to treat his injuries "aggressively" by operating on his brain injuries or prescribing antibiotics when he developed pneumonia. Instead it was decided to treat his pain and keep him comfortable until he passed away.

"There was a certain inevitability to him dying. It would have slowed the process rather than stopped the process."

Churchis has pleaded not guilty to Mr Linder's murder.

The trial continues.

- APNZ

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