Murder-accused was angry at neighbours - Crown

5:57 pm on 25 October 2016

A man's frustration and annoyance at his neighbours' noisy parties boiled over into anger and ended in a murder at midnight on an Auckland street, says the Crown.

Dustin La Mont at the High Court, 25 October 2016.

Dustin La Mont in the High Court in Auckland Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Dustin La Mont is accused of murdering 24-year-old Nathan Pukeroa and wounding Mr Pukeroa's friend with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in December last year.

The trial of Mr La Mont, who has denied both charges, began in the High Court in Auckland today.

In his opening address to the jury, Crown prosecutor Steve Haszard held up a relatively small black-handled knife, mounted on a wood board.

"Mr Lamont chose to swing that knife with sufficient force and accuracy into Mr Pukeroa's neck, with sufficient force to push the blade of the knife up to the hilt, in fact, beyond the hilt."

Seconds later Mr Lamont turned on Mr Pukeroa's friend, Devaray Junior Cole-Kuvarji, and swung again, hitting him in the neck also, he said.

Mr Pukeroa died in the street. Mr Cole-Kuvarji survived, and was expected to give evidence later this week.

Nathan Pukeroa

Nathan Pukeroa Photo: NZ Police

Mr Haszard said Mr Lamont and Mr Pukeroa were from different worlds and, until the night of 2 December 2015, had never met.

The history of the attack went back to February 2014, when Mr Lamont and his girlfriend signed a one-year lease on 19 Renton Rd in Mt Albert, he said.

Despite the gang members and associates next door, who frequently threw noisy parties, they extended the lease a year later.

"I expect you'll hear evidence of, apart from the partying and general noise and disturbance, evidence relating to drug use, and purchasing and criminal behaviour, which had occurred earlier. So make no mistake about it, Number 21 was not a dream place to live beside, if you were looking for a quiet place to live," Mr Haszard said.

The court was told Mr Lamont's annoyance turned to anger and fixation. He complained to the local community constable, to his property manager and others about the noise next door.

He even took videos and photos and went so far as to record the number plates of visiting cars, checking them on an online database to see if they were stolen.

Mr Haszard said Mr Lamont planned to have his neighbours evicted. He took to social media, calling his neighbours derogatory names. He also spoke of killing, bemoaning the partial defence of provocation had been revoked by Parliament. His message on Twitter read: "Rarely have I been more provoked to go on a murderous rampage."

On 2 December 2015, Mr Lamont's neighbours had another party. Again, Mr Lamont went online, complaining and swearing about the noise, Mr Haszard said.

About midnight, his girlfriend and flatmate went to bed, but Mr Lamont left the house to do some surveillance, arming himself with a knife, he said.

As he passed the driveway of his neighbours, he was spotted by Mr Pukeroa and Mr Cole-Kuvarji, who were at the party.

The pair confronted Mr Lamont at the end of the road and Mr Lamont stabbed both men.

Accused 'reacted in absolute fear and blind panic'

But Mr Lamont's lawyer, David Hoskin, said his client was acting in self-defence.

"You'll hear Mr Lamont's account that he was trapped at the end of a cul-de-sac by two large men who had come out of 21 Renton Rd, asking him what was in his pockets, asking him if he worked for the police. He was threatened and was swung at before he reacted in self defence."

There were two sides to every story and Mr Lamont had been encouraged by police to keep an eye on his neighbours, Mr Hoskin said.

"A terrifying situation for Mr Lamont arose in a few seconds and he reacted in absolute fear and blind panic. He didn't contemplate for one moment that death was something that could well eventuate from his actions on that night."

The Crown's case is that, following the stabbing, Mr Lamont ran through backyards and went in the back door of his flat. He shaved off his beard, bleached clean his clothing and took the knife apart.

He dumped the items on the way to work the next morning.

Mr Lamont told the police about his involvement days later, when they began asking questions about his beard-shaving and their knowledge that he was not inside the flat at the relevant time.

The trial, before Justice Edwards and a jury, is due to hear from 36 witnesses over the next three weeks.