A teenage boy told a party-goer at the house where 20-year-old college student Cameron Blair was murdered that he would “shank” him, a witness has told the Central Criminal Court.
The jury also heard today that Cameron said he did not want to be fighting and that “everything was going to be OK” moments after he was stabbed in the neck.
The 12 jurors have been told that the events of this case related to “a tragic situation” where Cameron, a chemical engineering student, died at Cork University Hospital last year after being stabbed in the neck while attending a student party. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.
Marcel Szulhan was giving evidence in the trial of the now 16-year-old accused, who is charged with the production of a knife at a house on Bandon Rd in Cork City on January 16, 2020.
The accused, who was 14 at the time of the incident and cannot be named because he is a minor, has pleaded not guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, to wit a knife, in a manner likely to unlawfully intimidate another person.
Mr Szulhan told John Fitzgerald, prosecuting, that he knew Cameron from nights out in secondary school, and had met him at the party on Bandon Rd.
The witness said that three younger boys, who looked under 18 years of age, had arrived at the party.
“We were all dressed in going-out clothes and they were in tracksuits,” said the witness.
He said the atmosphere was getting “heated” when the three boys arrived, as they were saying “a lot of unnecessary things” and people at the party had started arguing with them.
Mr Szulhan said individuals at the party had “chipped in €5 or €10” to buy €50 worth of cannabis for an “after party” at the house. He said he had asked the tallest of the three boys if he could “sort it for us” and one of his friends had given him €50. “We were told it would be three grams of cannabis,” he said, adding that “everything got heated up again” after they received the bag of drugs.
Mr Szulhan said that the three boys had left the house to get the cannabis and returned sometime later with two separate bags of the drug. “Two or three more lads came back with them, they were the lads who sourced it,” he said.
Mr Szulhan said the three boys were asked to leave the party later on as they were going into the city and the youngest of the three boys began looking for his phone charger.
When asked if things were getting heated when they were looking for the phone charger, Mr Szulhan said that when the youngest of the boys was leaving the house, he said he would “shank” another person at the party.
The witness said that the three boys were standing outside in a semi-circle when Cameron was at the front door. “They were talking about the charger,” said Mr Szulhan. “One of the lads gave him his own charger, but that didn’t calm anything down.”
The next thing, Mr Szulhan said, was that he heard someone scream: “They all have knives!”
When asked what he saw happen to Cameron, the witness explained that he saw “a knife being put up and went down”.
“Cameron turned around whilst holding his neck and said he doesn’t want to be fighting and everything was going to be OK,” said the witness.
When Cameron was being put into the ambulance, Mr Szulhan said he saw the “youngest lad” walking back to the house and “looking” before gardaí started to chase him.
Under cross-examination, Mr Szulhan agreed with Timothy O’Leary, defending, that he had described his friend Cameron in his statement as a “guy to get the party going; loud and outgoing”.
The witness agreed that he had asked the taller of the three boys to get him drugs. Mr O’Leary asked was this the reason that the three boys had been welcomed into the party.
“No that wasn’t it, we asked as a group and that was 40 minutes into the party,” he replied. “We were looking for a €50 bag and then somebody said we might as well ask them.”
Mr Szulhan explained to Mr O’Leary that an agreement was made to get a three-gram bag of cannabis, but the three boys came back with two individual bags of cannabis. “There was two grams in each bag and we were supposed to get three grams. We gave them a gram back,” he said.
When asked what happened next, Mr Szulhan said the taller of the three boys left the party and “the youngest lad” walked out after him and “told one of my friends he was going to shank them”.
Mr Szulhan said he was not the only person to ask the taller of the three lads to get cannabis, and explained that it was a group of them.
“It wasn’t me sorting the whole thing — I was the one that gave him the money and that was about it,” he said.
Mr O’Leary asked the witness if there had been “a little bit of trouble” about the cannabis. Mr Szulhan denied that there had been any trouble and said that they had taken three grams as agreed and that the three boys had then left the house.
The barrister put it to the witness that in his statement he had mentioned weighing the cannabis on an electronic scales in the bedroom of one of the occupants of the house. Mr O’Leary then asked why would there be “a procedure of weighing” the cannabis if there was not an issue about “the quantity of weed” that had been obtained.
“I can’t tell you that as I can’t remember,” he replied.
In re-examination, Mr Fitzgerald put it to the witness that portions of his statement had been read to him which referred to what a 14-year-old had done.
The lawyer asked Mr Szulhan if this was the youngest of the three boys, and the witness said it was.
On Tuesday, Dave Sheehan, who described himself as one of Cameron’s best friends, told Mr Fitzgerald that he saw the 16-year-old accused with a knife and said it was a “small knife” and “the blade was no more than four inches”.
When asked how the accused was holding the knife, the witness said “down by his side in his left hand”.
Under cross-examination, Mr Sheehan told the accused’s defence counsel that he had seen the knife “with my eyes”, when it was suggested to him that he had “added on another layer” about the accused having a knife.
In his opening address, Mr Fitzgerald told the jurors that they must decide whether the accused produced a knife “capable of inflicting serious injury” in the course of a dispute at a house party where Cameron was murdered.
Last week, the boy pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder with two other persons present together, using or threatening to use unlawful violence, and such conduct taken together would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at Bandon Rd in Cork City to fear for his or another person’s safety at the said place on the same occasion.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice David Keane and a jury of eight men and four women.