Dustin La Mont trial: Court told how accused panicked before pulling knife and stabbing 'two rather large men'

By Eli Orzessek

Dustin La Mont is facing a murder charges and intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Dustin La Mont is facing a murder charges and intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The sound of a knife opening and footsteps on asphalt were all Dustin La Mont remembered of the moment he allegedly stabbed two men, killing one and leaving another seriously injured, a court has heard.

When police interviewed La Mont the week after the stabbing, he appeared calm and denied any part in the incident.

However, after spending a night with his girlfriend in a motel which had been bugged by police, La Mont confessed the next day to having stabbed Nathan Pukeroa and Deveray-Junior Cole-Kuvarji in what he described as a moment of panic.

La Mont, 26, is charged with the murder of Pukeroa and with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Cole-Kuvarji. The incidents occurred at Renton Rd in Mt Albert on December 3 last year.

The jury were yesterday shown videos of the interviews between La Mont and Detective John Kennedy, which were conducted on December 9 and 10 last year.

In the first police interview, La Mont calmly explained his initial alibi - that he had been self-harming in his garage when the two men were stabbed in the early hours of December 3.

When asked by Detective Kennedy about his movements on the night, he remembered watching episodes of The Walking Dead with his girlfriend, her sister and his flatmate, speaking to a neighbour whose smoke alarm had gone off and returning to the house to shower.

While showering, he claimed to have felt anxious and had gone to his garage because "I had to be somewhere else".

He told the detective he walked into the garage and heard the sounds of his neighbours' party and wondered how "these people who have probably done nothing good for anyone else" could be so happy.

He said he cut himself in the dark with a knife he used for work, before returning to the house and going in the bathroom to shave his beard off, as he had grown tired of it.

La Mont and his girlfriend were later sent to stay at a motel in Avondale for the night, where police bugs picked up a partial confession, the court heard.

When Detective Kennedy picked him up the following morning, the police officer asked La Mont, "Where is the knife?" and was told that it had been disassembled and disposed of in a Mt Albert walkway and in a skip outside the cafe where La Mont worked.

Later that morning, in a formal police interview shown to the jury, La Mont said he was cornered by two men at the end of his street, after he was seen looking down the driveway at the party next door.

He said he continued walking down the street and "hoped they'd leave me alone", but could see them staring at him.

They had then walked towards him, asking what he had been doing on the street and whether he was working for police, La Mont said.

"One, as I tried to walk past grabbed me by the shirt and pulled me back," he said. "It was quite intimidating because I'm quite a slim person and these were two rather large men."

He said the men had said something like "should we smash him cuz" and he had warned them that he had a knife in his pocket.

They then advanced towards him and one of them swung a punch, La Mont said. After that, all he could remember was the sound of his knife opening, feet thumping on asphalt and a light shining in his eyes when he ran away.

"I wish now that I had just jumped over a fence or run down someone's driveway or something like that," he said. "I'm sure I could've gotten away from them without having to fight them off, but I just panicked."

Following the incident, he described making his way around the block and back to his backyard by jumping over the fence of the house behind him.

La Mont said he then washed his clothes with mould cleaner and left them to soak in a tub overnight, before speaking to a police officer who came to the door.

In his earlier interview, La Mont described his history with his next-door neighbours, who he said had bothered him with loud parties, cars and arguments since he had moved onto the street in 2014. While he said the neighbours were "fairly innocuous" at first, the situation escalated when patched Mongrel Mob members began frequenting the property.

He said his flatmate's car had been broken into during this period and another neighbour had had their car windows smashed.

He also spoke of his struggles with anxiety and said he had been diagnosed with selective mutism - a childhood disorder characterised by an inability to speak in social situations - as a child, but had "snapped out of it" by age 6.

The court also heard further excerpts from La Mont's Twitter account that were read during the interview, including tweets sent in the days following the incident.

One tweet said: "The 'victim' ladies and gentlemen" and included a link to a picture of Pukeroa found on Facebook.

Another said: "I f***ing knew these neighbours were "f***ed."

The trial continues.

- NZ Herald

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