Text exchange on night of murder

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 13:27 01/07/2013
murder 2 std
MURDER-ACCUSED: Thuvan Prawesh Sawal.
murder1.std
ON TRIAL: Mudiyanselage Viraj Wasantha Alahakoon.

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A man accused of murder was exchanging a series of relationship-type texts about the time the Crown alleges he and a friend were murdering a man and setting his body alight at Oxford.

The texts between Thuvan Prawash Sawal, 24, and a woman he knew were put before a jury in the High Court at Christchurch on the sixth day of the trial of Sawal and 34-year-old Mudiyanselage Viraj Wasantha Alahakoon, who deny joint charges of murder and arson.

They deny the charges and are accusing each other of committing the crimes. Alahakoon also denies charges of assaulting a woman and assaulting her with a pair of scissors by cutting off her long hair, on two dates in December 2011. The woman has name suppression.

Another woman who knew Sawal said she was at home in Christchurch on the night of February 22 to 23, 2012.

That was the night Sawal and Alahakoon were out together, and were with the murder victim, Sameera Madurangana Manikka Bathtalage, the 28-year-old man who died of cutting and stabbing wounds to the throat before his body was set alight inside his house in Domain Road, Oxford.

The Crown alleges the murder took place in the early hours of February 23, after the three had been drinking together and watching cricket at the Oxford Workingmen's Club.

The woman, who also has name suppression, gave evidence today about the texts which were listed on a document in court, though she said she could not remember them. They were the kind of texts that Sawal would send, she said.

At 9.46pm, she texted him: "I miss you. XX. Take care."

Sawal replied: "I miss you too. How are you going. I'll be home soon gorgeous."

At 1.07am, Sawal texted: "I love you gorgeous."

An hour later, the woman texted him: "Doesn't feel like it."

Sawal replied a minute later: "Yeah, I really do. I'll be home soon."

She sent back: "Take your time. Enjoy who you are with. Nothing happening here XX."

Sawal replied: "K. Love you. Miss you."

Some texts were then exchanged about who he was with. Sawal texted: "I'm with my mates."

At 3.10am, she texted: "OK. See you when I see you. Enjoy. I'm going to sleep."

Sawal arrived at her house and came to her bedroom at 4am or 5am and he had a shower and came to bed.

"He was very huggy - child-like huggy - and that kind of threw me off balance."

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Sawal asked her to say that if anyone asked, that he had been home from about 1.30am.

She asked what he had done, and who she was meant to tell. He replied, "Anybody, the police maybe."

She told the court: "My response was, 'If you have done something I am not going to cover up anything for you'."

Questioned by Crown prosecutor Brent Stanaway, the woman said that Sawal had carried a knife in his pocket. She said it had a blade 10 to 12cm long which folded into a black handle. She said it had been in a drawer at her house when the police went there.

The trial may last up to six weeks, before Justice Christian Whata. Evidence is being translated into Sinhalese for the two Sri Lankan men on trial.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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