A young security guard, killed on his first night on the job, was filling in for a permanent staff member who had requested the night off for his birthday, a court has heard.
Charanpreet Dhaliwal, 22, died from multiple skull fractures and other head injuries at an Auckland building site almost two years ago.
A 28-year-old man, who has name suppression, pleaded not guilty to murder at the beginning of his trial at the High Court in Auckland today, as well as a second charge of assaulting a nightclub doorman on the same day.
Mr Dhaliwal - known as 'lucky' - had been living in New Zealand for around one year when he was killed on his first shift as a part-time security guard. He had been contacted by CNE Security's boss Cherag Elavia to fill in for the regular guard at a Fulton Hogan construction depot on Selwood Road, Henderson, overnight on November 17, 2011.
Mr Elavia told the court the usual security guard, Ganesh Vaidyaraman, had phoned him to request the night off.
"He phoned up and said he wanted the night off because it was his birthday, so I called Charanpreet Dhaliwal," he said.
It was in the early hours of November 18 when Mr Dhaliwal's beaten body was discovered lying in a pool of his own blood by a construction worker returning equipment to the depot.
The Crown alleges the accused, accompanied by three others, punched a doorman at a bar in Henderson, after being refused entry.
In her opening statement, prosecutor Yelena Yelavich, said the accused and his three friends were attempting to hide in the depot after running away from the scene of the nightclub assault when they were approached by Mr Dhaliwal, who told them to leave.
"[The accused], suddenly and without warning, approached Mr Dhaliwal and struck him with a piece of timber, causing him to fall to the ground."
He was struck at least twice by what is believed to have been a length of 4x2, she said.
The gang then stole Mr Dhaliwal's wallet and mobile phone and fled the scene, later making their way into Auckland city centre where they continued drinking, Ms Yelavich said.
Defence counsel Lorraine Smith argued it was not her client who killed Mr Dhaliwal, but other members of the group, some of whom had gang links.
She described the accused as "the odd man out", being only an acquaintance of one of the others.
"The defence case is that loyalties within the gang were such that when it became clear that police knew [the three associates] were involved in the death of Mr Dhaliwal, the obvious person to point the finger at was [the accused]," she said.
Mrs Smith also indicated the defence will argue that a piece of wood was not the murder weapon.
"The evidence will show the victim was not killed with a bit of wood and not killed by [the accused]," Mrs Smith said.
"One of the men hit him very hard in the head and they all fled believing that he was knocked out, but certainly not anticipating that he would die."
The jury trial is expected to run for three weeks.