THE man accused of the brutal 2009 murder of a Griffith fruit picker claimed he hadn’t seen the victim after he left a party drunk the night before his death.
Harpreet Singh, 26, is accused of stabbing Ranjodh Singh in the back before slitting his throat twice and setting his body alight on the side of Wilga Road in December, 2009.
The Albury Supreme Court jury yesterday heard how Harpreet Singh told police that Ranjodh Singh had left the party and “I never saw him again, I never spoke to him again”.
But police allege Harpreet Singh and Ranjodh Singh had argued at the party when the victim demanded money owed to him by Harpreet Singh.
The jury were told during the crown prosecutor Peter McGrath’s opening address that Harpreet Singh punched and kicked Ranjodh Singh and threatened to kill him.
Ranjodh Singh was then allegedly placed in a car belonging to husband and wife Gurpreet Singh and Harpreet Kaur Bhullar and driven out to Wilga Road, where Harpeet Singh committed the murder.
Key witness Gurpreet Singh gave evidence at the trial yesterday and admitted he had lied to police when arrested in 2010 because Harpreet Singh had threatened him and his wife.
Gurpreet Singh was originally charged with murder, but pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in February and agreed to give evidence against Harpreet Singh.
“My lawyer told me to tell the truth and give a statement,” he said.
“I pleaded on being an accessory after the fact.”
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Tim Clark, also took to the stand and told how information provided by the public had led them to suspect Harpreet Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Bhullar of the murder.
He told the jury how information released to the media had led to a truck driver informing police he had seen a red Ford near the crime scene at the time of the murder.
Police had then seized and searched the red Ford belonging to Gurpreet Singh and Bhullar.
But Detective Sergeant Clark said police were unable to establish any links between the car and the victim, despite several DNA tests.
He also told the jury how the husband and wife had boarded a plane for a one-way flight to Nepal on January 4, but were arrested and detained after alerts were put
out on their passports.