Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Dustin La Mont trial: Witness 'saw someone acting suspiciously'

Dustin La Mont appears in the Auckland High Court on murder charges. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Dustin La Mont appears in the Auckland High Court on murder charges. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The man who survived being stabbed in the neck by Dustin La Mont says before the attack, he saw someone acting suspiciously.

Devaray-Junior Heremia Cole-Kuvarji, 23, who was stabbed in the right of his neck in the same attack which left his friend, Nathan Pukeroa, 24, dead is giving testimony at La Mont's trial at the Auckland High Court.

La Mont, 26, is charged with the murder of Pukeroa and for Cole-Kuvarji with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in Mt Albert on December 2 last year.

The alleged attacks took place on Renton Rd with the Crown alleging La Mont's feelings towards his neighbours rose from annoyance to "a state of anger and frustration" in the 21 months before.

However, the defence says La Mont acted in self defence to two large men threatening him after they saw him inspecting the house that night.

Cole-Kuvarji is giving evidence today and told the court he first met Pukeroa as a teen when they did similar courses together.

They remained close - when Cole-Kuvarji got out of prison after two years served for aggravated robbery in March he asked the dead man to be his daughter's godfather.

Crown prosecutor Steve Haszard asked whether he and Pukroa had ever been involved with gangs.

Cole-Kuvarji said when they were younger the pair represented "the colour blue, really - crips" and then he joined Black Power when he was older. However, as far as he knew, Pukeroa wasn't involved with gangs.

The witness also said he'd "handed his colours back" after the attack because he realised anyone could be hurt or killed at any time.

"I didn't see that being in a gang was worth adding risk to my life."

When he moved down to Auckland in November for a new girlfriend and job, Cole-Kuvarji wanted to catch up with his friend who was staying with family on Renton Rd.

The night of the attacks, Pukeroa and two others picked him up from Manurewa in a Toyota Hilux and went back to the house on Renton Rd and hung out in the sleep-out at the back for about half an hour before they went to get some alcohol because "not much" was happening.

The group picked up two bottles of vodka and "some fizzies to go with it" then went back to the sleep-out where not long after Cole-Kuvarji started using his tattoo-gun on someone.

"Almost every time I've seen or hung around with Nathan I've ended up doing a tattoo," he told the court.

Cole-Kuvarji said that night he didn't see anyone take drugs or hear any chat about it - but one of the women in the sleep-out appeared to be on meth.

Later, Cole-Kuvarji was urinating in the bushes outside the house when he noticed someone walk past, looked down the driveway and "he didn't take his eyes off the property" before walking down the road.

"It just looked suspicious to me."

The Crown alleges that night La Mont took a knife with him when he went to inspect the house, which he did frequently to try get them evicted, and when Cole-Kuvarji and Pukeroa went to him about what he was doing, he stabbed them both.

La Mont's lawyer says he acted in self defense.

La Mont then allegedley set about covering up what he'd done by bleaching his clothes, disassembling the knife, shaving his beard then ditching items on his way to work the next day.

He also created a false alibi but was "painted into a corner" and eventually could no longer deny his involvement to police.

The trial continues.

- NZ Herald

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