11 Jul 2016

Fatal teen bottle stabbing trial begins

4:30 pm on 11 July 2016

An Auckland teenager accused of murdering a promising young rugby league player was just 16 at the time and had no intention of killing anyone, his lawyer says.

Luke Tipene

The victim, Luke Tipene, died after being stabbed outside a Halloween party in 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Vincent Angene Skeen, now aged 18, denied murdering Luke Tipene outside a Halloween party in 2014.

The trial began today in the High Court in Auckland and the Crown said Mr Skeen used a broken beer bottle to strike Mr Tipane at least seven times, one of which was a fatal blow to the neck.

Mr Skeen's lawyer, Lorraine Smith, told the court Mr Tipene was older, bigger and stronger than her client.

She said he hit Mr Skeen from the back or side and Mr Skeen very foolishly picked up a broken bottle and swung it at him.

She said if he had hit Mr Tipene in the chest, shoulder or arm, then the trial wouldn't be happening - but by a terrible misfortune, he hit him in the neck.

Mrs Smith said - if anything, Mr Skeen is guilty of manslaughter - but not murder.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said in his opening address that Mr Skeen had been at a party that spilled out on to Great North Road where a fight started.

He said Mr Skeen stepped into the fight and was struck by Mr Tipene.

Mr Dickey said Mr Skeen responded by smashing a beer bottle and striking Mr Tipene at least seven times, including one blow that pierced his jugular vein.

He said Mr Tipene stumbled off and later died, despite being rushed to hospital.

The jury of four women and eight men are due to hear evidence from 33 witnesses over two weeks.