A man involved in the brawl that killed Wangaratta’s Russell Berry has been accused of lying in court.
It came during a hearing in Wangaratta Magistrates Court on Thursday over the allegation Jacob Allan, 23, murdered Mr Berry by stomping on his head and chest during a brawl in the early hours of May 20 last year.
Witnesses had different versions of events, making what actually occurred unclear.
Paul Kerr, a friend of Mr Berry’s, last month pleaded guilty to intentionally causing injuries to Allan and his cousin Christopher Meaney during the fight, by striking them with two machetes.
But he backflipped on that on Thursday.
“I didn’t have any weapons with me,” he said. “I’ve got a memory of a few things, but it’s a bit vague at times.”
Previous witnesses told the court they saw Kerr pull machetes out of his overalls, join the brawl, then run away.
Defence barrister Mark Gumbleton said Kerr’s credibility was “absolutely in the gun”. “You left your mate on the roadway and ran away,” he said.
Kerr again told the court a different story, saying he had been inside the White Street house after the incident.
“I didn’t leave the house, I was traumatised, I didn’t go outside,” he said.
Another witness James Ferguson made a last-minute decision to change his statement around Kerr’s actions.
He said Kerr only pulled out the machetes after Allan allegedly stomped on Mr Berry’s head, not before.
Mr Ferguson claimed he had been in shock and the police had not understood what he meant.
He said he burnt the first copy of his statement, but realised changes needed to be made when he was given another one by police this week.
“I have visions of it everyday … there’s things you just can’t get out, they just stay there,” he said.
Mr Gumbleton claimed the witness’s recollection would be less reliable nearly 12 months later.
“Your memory’s shot, you don’t remember what happened yesterday,” he said.
“Did you see Jacob Allan get cracked over the head with one of those machetes?”
Mr Ferguson admitted his memory had been affected since a drug overdose two years ago.
Attacker was warned to stop
The neighbour who heard the commotion out the front of her White Street home has told of the events that led her to call triple zero.
Lynette Denning was in bed in the early hours of May 20 last year when she heard what sounded like windows smashing.
“I knew it was (smashing glass), but i didn't see anything,” she said.
When she peered out from between the curtains, she saw a man on the ground and another man holding what looked like a shovel.
Ms Denning heard a voice she recognised belonging to Christopher Meaney telling Jacob Allan to “stop”.
“When the police cars were there, I realised it was a body (on the ground). It was being hit by Jacob,” she said.
She said she had been “in quite a frenzy” when calling for police and ambulance to show up.
“I just said there was a big brawl with lots of yelling,” she said.
Another friend of Mr Berry’s Nino Porpora also gave evidence he had been walking home on the night when he heard yelling and turned back to discover Mr Berry on the ground.
“All I can remember seeing was Jacon Allan – or I think it was him, he had his back to me – just jumping on Russell,” he said.
The final day of the three-day committal hearing will take place on Friday.
Meanwhile Wangaratta police have confirmed a man was arrested outside the courthouse on Wednesday for offensive conduct and bailed until a later date.
Witnesses have told The Border Mail the offender was Paul Kerr, who allegedly exposed himself in front of two women who reported his behaviour to police.