| 13.6°C Dublin

'My friend prayed as he lay dying' - Azzam murder trial witness

Close

Azzam Raguraigui was stabbed to death in south Dublin park

Azzam Raguraigui was stabbed to death in south Dublin park

Azzam Raguraigui was stabbed to death in south Dublin park

A teenager recited a Muslim prayer for the dying after he was stabbed in a Dublin park by another youth, a murder trial has heard.

At court yesterday, a friend of the late Azzam Raguragui gave evidence in the trial of a 17-year-old who has admitted killing but pleaded not guilty to murder.

Azzam (18) died during a melee among teenagers in Finsbury Park, Dundrum, on May 10 last year, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The witness told James Dwyer, prosecuting, how after witnessing Azzam being stabbed he phoned for an ambulance and used his shirt in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

He could hear his friend speaking Arabic, he told the court, repeating a line that is said by Muslims when they are dying.

The witness told Mr Dwyer he had spent that day with friends in Dundrum.

They were fasting as it was Ramadan, and while they were in Finsbury Park they were approached by another group that included the accused.

They spent about 15 minutes talking with the other group without any problems, he said.

The witness said goodbye to his friends and was just leaving the park when he saw a fight break out between the two groups.

He said he did not know what had been said, but he told Mr Dwyer he saw a member of the accused's group punch either Azzam or another friend.

The whole group began fighting, he said, and he saw Azzam running up a hill with the acc- used chasing him.

He said he saw his friend slip and fall on his back while the accused stood above him and used a knife, possibly a flick knife, to strike him.

Azzam tried to kick the accused away while lying on his back.

Swung

The witness said he ran toward his friend and the accused was "still over him, trying to go for another shot, trying to lean in with the knife to hit him again".

He said the accused then swung the knife at the rest of the group before running away.

Under cross-examination, the witness told Michael Bowman SC, defending, he initially lied to gardaí at the scene.

He said that while he and two of his friends were waiting for gardaí to arrive they made up a story that three Irish "junkies" tried to rob Mr Raguragui before stabbing him.

The witness further agreed that the three talked later that evening about the false story at a mosque and agreed to lie to gardaí later that night.

He said he gave a true statement on May 13, three days after the stabbing.

The witness further accepted that he could be seen handing a knife to another youth on a bicycle shortly after the fatal fight.

He told Mr Bowman the knife belonged to him and had been hidden in a bush in the park some time before.

He said he did not have the knife on him during the fight, but went to retrieve it afterwards and told his friend on the bike to throw it away.

He denied he had it during the fight. He also said he was wearing gloves at the time as he has a problem whereby his hands get cold.

Two teenage girls told Mr Dwyer the accused had been acting in a "hostile" and "aggressive" manner earlier.

The first witness said she was in Dundrum Shopping Centre at about 7.30pm with two friends when she saw the accused with other youths.

The witness said that, in her opinion, the accused was standing in "quite an aggressive manner. It looked like he had an issue",she said.

The second witness told Mr Dwyer she was at the shopping centre and recalled the accused and five boys walking past.

She remembered the accused asking her male friend for his name in what she said was "quite a way".

"He looked like he was about to go for him in a hostile way," she said.

When her friend told him his name, the accused walked away.

Hindsight

Under cross-examination, the witness told Mr Bowman the accused did not move toward her friend, but her impression was he asked for her friend's name in a " kind of way".

She further agreed she was not overly concerned when she got a text message shortly after that incident saying Azzam had been stabbed, as he had been stabbed before.

"I didn't know where he had been stabbed," she said. She found out later he was dead.

She disagreed with the suggestion it was with the benefit of hindsight that she was now saying the accused acted in a menacing and aggressive way.

The trial continues.