Liquor store owner told police he was stabbed

By Edward Gay

Virender Singh told police that he was punched by three teenagers and stabbed outside his liquor shop before he was arrested by police.

Singh is accused of assaulting two teenagers who were trying to rob his store in Otara last September. He faces two charges of injuring with intent to injure.

He has denied the charges on the grounds he acted in self-defence.

Part of an interview Singh gave to police shortly after the brawl was played at his depositions hearing in the Manukau District Court yesterday.

In the interview, he describes pulling up to his shop in the afternoon and seeing his nephew in the doorway trying to hold a teenager down.

He told a detective, Nick Poland, the teenager looked under-age and drunk.

Singh said he went to call police but "three guys jumped on me. These guys started punching and swinging at me."

He said he grabbed a hockey stick which he kept for "self-defence" from inside his liquor shop.

Singh said it was then that he thought someone had hit him in the thigh and it was only after the fight that he saw his pants had a bloody hole in them and he had been stabbed.

"The fella with the knife, I followed him. He threw the knife at me and I chased him," Singh said.

"I hit him with the hockey stick, the one with the knife," he said.

A witness to the brawl also gave evidence yesterday. Edmund Vaetoru was sitting in his car when two of the drunk teenagers approached him and asked him to buy them alcohol. He said no.

He said he also saw one of the boys holding a knife wrapped in a rag. The boy threw the knife at someone but he couldn't see who. Mr Vaetoru said he saw Singh pick the knife up.

Mr Vaetoru told the court that a boy then picked up a fence paling and tried to hit Singh before smashing a dairy window and throwing the wood at a woman, hitting her in the face.

He said one of the boys was on the ground and getting whacked on the back by a man holding a stick.

Another boy had backed off. "He was at the phonebox standing there screaming, making threats. They all were."

The boy on the ground got up and punched a man in the face before being hit again by another man with a pole.

Meanwhile, another boy was being held down outside the liquor shop. "He was getting held down, I just saw blood," Mr Vaetoru said.

He said both Singh and another man had hit the boy. He said Singh had a hockey stick.

But under cross-examination by Singh's lawyer, Greg King, Mr Vaetoru said there were inconsistencies between what was written in his police statement and what he had told the court.

Mr Vaetoru said some things that he told police on the day were missing from his statement while other things had been added.

Mr King said the statement Mr Vaetoru made on the day was "very confusing". "Today you say it is very hard to remember and it's all a blank.

"How on earth can you give evidence that is of any assistance to the court?" asked Mr King. "Then I shouldn't be here," Mr Vaetoru said.

Mr King asked questions about who hit who and in what sequence.

He put it to Mr Vaetoru that Mr Singh hit a teenager in blue after the teenager threw a piece of wood at a woman and hit her in the face.

But Mr Vaetoru said it was another teenager that Singh hit with his hockey stick.

- NZ Herald

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