Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Luke Tipene murder trial: Crown's closing address

Luke Tipene had more than a dozen injuries. Picture / Facebook
Luke Tipene had more than a dozen injuries. Picture / Facebook

An Auckland teen stabbed to death a promising rugby league player because he was "really, really angry and because he wanted to and because he could", the Crown says.

"That's murder. It needs to be called what it is," prosecutor Brian Dickey told the jury in his closing address this morning.

Vincent Angene Skeen, 18, has spent the week in the dock in the High Court at Auckland on trial over the alleged murder of 17-year-old Luke Tipene on November 1, 2014.

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Violence broke out on the streets of Grey Lynn when partygoers spilled out of an apartment building in the early hours of the morning.

"Vincent Skeen got knocked over a couple of times by Luke Tipene, there's not much doubt about that. It made Vincent Skeen angry; really angry. Maybe it embarrassed him in front of his mates," Dickey said.

The Crown case is that the defendant found a full beer bottle, which he smashed on the ground, leaving only the bottle's jagged neck in his hand.

Skeen and Tipene then squared off again, the court heard.

"Vincent Skeen had the better of the re-engagement because he had a smashed beer bottle to use as a weapon. It seems Luke Tipene realised that and sought to get out, to disengage, to back away," the prosecutor said.

"He thrust the protruding blade, the shard of that weapon, deep into Luke Tipene's throat."

Dickey told the jury that Skeen's words immediately afterwards were the best evidence of his intentions in the preceding moments. "He announced, if you like: 'I just stabbed that c***'," he said.

"There's no hint in those words of inadvertence. There's no suggestion there that 'I've made a terrible mistake'. He's literally done what he set out to do and with those spontaneous words of victory, Vincent Skeen has committed murder."

Dickey said the murder accused may or may not have meant to kill Tipene - in either scenario the jury could find him guilty.

"Whether he did or did not intend to kill him, he must have surely known what he was doing might well kill him; that there was a real risk he might kill him and he was prepared in that appreciation to do it anyway," he said.

"Yes, Vincent Skeen is a young man when this happens but that will not make what is murder not murder."

Dickey highlighted the evidence given by pathologist Dr Paul Morrow, who outlined more than a dozen injuries to the victim.

"A single blow causing all those injuries couldn't be done. It's inconceivable," the prosecutor said.

A 10-12cm wound to the neck that severed the jugular vein saw Tipene essentially bleed to death in hospital four hours later, Morrow said.

Dickey also underscored the testimony given by two men from an apartment building overlooking the brawl. They recalled Tipene backing off with his hands raised as Skeen threw multiple "roundhouse" blows at him.

Those witnesses were the most detached and mature, Dickey told the jury.

Lorraine Smith will close the defence case this afternoon.

Justice Mary Peters will sum up on Monday before the jury of seven men and five women begins deliberations.

- NZ Herald

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