Homeless man murder: Accused 'went overboard' - witness

By Patrice Dougan, Brendan Manning

Steven Churchis and associates in Mills Lane on the night of the incident, as caught on a CCTV camera.
Steven Churchis and associates in Mills Lane on the night of the incident, as caught on a CCTV camera.

An associate of a man accused of murdering homeless Auckland man Edwin Linder in a dark central city alleyway last year told the High Court today he poured a bottle of urine over the man after he was fatally assaulted.

Mr Linder, 42, died in hospital three days after the early morning assault in Mills Lane on July 31, 2013.

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

Two of his friends - also homeless and whose names are suppressed - were with Churchis on the night Mr Linder was assaulted, and gave evidence at the trial today.

Mr Linder had been "going to the toilet" at a spot in Mills Lane where they had been sleeping for a few weeks prior to the attack and they noticed one of their bags had been interfered with when they returned to the spot, one of the friends said.

They tried to persuade Mr Linder to go to Burger King to use the bathrooms, but because he was "half-way through" he didn't want to move, saying "five minutes, five minutes", the court heard.

When Churchis - known to his friends as 'DJ' - and a young woman returned from a nearby fast food restaurant Churchis came upon them arguing with Mr Linder over the spot, he said.

As Mr Linder tried to leave, Churchis kicked him in the chest, sending his head crashing onto the concrete underneath him, the witness said.

Churchis then "went overboard" and began punching him, which was when they walked away, the witness said.

"He just started stomping on his face ... all I could see was him standing up and kicking."

The man told the court he later poured a bottle or urine over Mr Linder.

Earlier today, Churchis' other friend told the court that they didn't ring an ambulance because they didn't realise how seriously injured Mr Linder was.

"I've seen plenty of people get beat up, I thought he would be fine. Turns out he wasn't," he said.

Following their evidence, the police officer in charge of general inquiry team, Sergeant Jason Ekins told the court he later tracked Churchis down and arrested him at a Burger King restaurant after identifying him through CCTV footage.

"I immediately approached him and placed him in handcuffs," he said.

Mr Ekins told the court that Churchis admitted taking part in the attack when he was being arrested, allegedly saying; "Yeah the old fella did a s*** on my bro's things and then he attacked them so I put him down".

The trial continues.

- APNZ

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