Man goes on trial accused of Surjit Singh Chhokar murder

A man went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday accused of a murder allegedly committed almost 18 years ago.

Surjit Singh Chhokar, who died in 1998 Overtown, North Lanarkshire, with his wife Sanehdeep Kaur Chhokar. Picture: Contributed

Ronnie Coulter, 48, from Wishaw, denies killing 32-year-old Surjit Singh Chhokar in Garrion Street, Overtown, North Lanarkshire on 4 November, 1998 by punching him, hitting him with a wooden baton and stabbing him.

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination to the murder charge blaming Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery.

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Trial judge Lord Matthews told the jury: “Your verdict must be based on the evidence you hear in court.”

He added: “This case might last five weeks or so.”

In a brief first day of evidence, the jury was shown a number of maps and images of areas related to the investigation into Mr Chhokar’s death.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Coulter was acting with two other men - Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery - at the time of the alleged attack.

The murder charge includes allegations that Mr Chhokar was punched and had his arms grabbed to prevent him from defending himself. He is then said to have been hit with a wooden baton before he was repeatedly struck with a knife and killed.

It is further alleged that Coulter did previously “envince malice and ill-will” towards Mr Chhokar.

Mr Coulter is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice on November 4 and 5, 1998 at waste ground between Overton and Gowkthrapple, in Wishaw.

It is claimed he got another person to hide clothes worn during the alleged murder and destroyed, disposed of or concealed a knife.

Mr Coulter is further accused of between November 1998 and February 1999 of attempting to pervert the course of justice with “intent to avoid “detection, arrest, prosecution and conviction”.

He is also charged with forging the signature of Mr Chhokar to help cash a giro cheque for £100.70 on November 4, 1998

He is then accused of - while acting along with Andrew Coulter - breaking into Mr Chhokar’s home in 65 Caplaw Tower, Gowkthrapple, Wishaw and stealing a cooker.

Mr Coulter, who is represented by Donald Findlay QC, denies all the charges against him.

He has lodged a special defence of incrimination against Andrew Coulter in relation to alleged the forging of the giro and theft of a cooker.

The trial before judge Lord Matthews continues.