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Friend of murder accused lied to gardaí about knife used in attack, court told

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Azzam Raguragui died after he was stabbed in Finsbury Park, Dundrum

Azzam Raguragui died after he was stabbed in Finsbury Park, Dundrum

Azzam Raguragui died after he was stabbed in Finsbury Park, Dundrum

A friend of a teenager accused of murdering another teen during a melee in a Dublin park has told the Central Criminal Court that he did not tell gardaí the truth when giving a statement two days after the fatal stabbing.

The witness, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, has told the trial that he brought the knife used in the fatal attack.

He said the accused only realised he had a knife when they arrived at the park and took it off the witness because he didn't want them to get into trouble.

Giving evidence yesterday, the witness agreed with prosecution counsel James Dwyer SC that in his statement to gardaí two days after the incident, he said the accused had brought the knife to the witnesses' home earlier that day and showed it around.

He told gardaí the accused told him to hold the knife until they got to Dundrum and give it to him when they arrived.

Pocket

The statement continued: "A few seconds before Finsbury Park, I took it out of my tracksuit bottoms and put it in [the accused's] pocket... he told me to give it to him."

Giving evidence yesterday, he said part of his statement was not true and he had lied as he was afraid he would get into trouble.

When asked by defence counsel Michael Bowman SC why he did not take responsibility at the time, he said: "I didn't know what to say or do because my head was melted."

The 17-year-old accused has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to the murder of 18-year-old Azzam Raguragui at Finsbury Park, Dundrum, Dublin 14 on May 10, 2019. Mr Raguragui was stabbed five times.

The witness told Mr Dwyer he was with a group of friends and saw another group of older teens, including the deceased, at Finsbury Park that evening.

There was an allegation that Azzam had warned a member of the witnesses' group that he was a "dead man" arising out of a row over a stolen bicycle.

He said a conversation was going between Azzam and two members of his group when one of Azzam's group punched one of the witnesses' friends, knocking him to the ground.

A fight broke out, he said, and he tried to push one of the older boys away but was struck on the nose.

"I didn't see them but I did get hit by two other people as well. There was a scream. The fighting stopped after that," he added.

He said he saw Azzam for a brief moment. He was on his back, the witness said, holding his chest. After the fighting stopped he said he saw the accused holding a knife but said he couldn't remember what the accused said.

He agreed in his statement he had told gardaí: "He [the accused] looked angry and he was angry because Azzam had said to him: 'Remember my face'."

Carving

Under cross examination the witness said he was at home earlier that day carving his initials into the wooden part of his own bed with the knife.

He heard a knock on the door, put the knife in his pocket and went to see who it was. It was the accused.

They left the house at 6.30pm and he only realised he still had the knife later on as they entered Finsbury Park.

When asked why he told a different story to gardaí he told the court: "Because I was afraid at the time."

"We had been walking up and were looking towards them and I realised the knife had been in my pocket from earlier and [the accused] took it off me and said, 'give me that just in case something happens'.

"He took it off me because he didn't want us to get into trouble," he said.

The trial continues.