'Collective gasp' as Luke Tipene hit

Luke Tipene (Facebook)
Luke Tipene (Facebook)

A fight in which rising league star Luke Tipene ended up dying from a stab wound to the neck started due to an argument over a girl.

Vincent Angene Skeen is on trial in the Auckland High Court for killing the 17-year-old.

It is alleged he murdered Mr Tipene by stabbing him with a broken bottle to the neck.

A 16-year-old boy – who automatically has name suppression due to his age – told the court today he was involved in a fight which ended up involving Mr Tipene and Skeen, 17.

He said he was "egged on" to fight a friend of Mr Tipene's after the other boy – who also has name suppression - was 'harassing" and "feeling up" a girl at a Halloween party in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn last year. He said he was reluctant to fight as he "didn't want to ruin everyone's night".

The fight started after he confronted the boy before everyone moved outside as the party was winding down, he said.

Another witness said she was standing on footpath talking to friends after the party when the fight broke out.

She said it was a "pretty average" fight before things escalated.

"From there Vincent stepped in and I saw a second conflict begin when Luke disagreed that it was against the clean fight, the general morals around the fight," the 17-year-old witness said.

"From there the second fight started between the two boys. They were both aggressive towards each other."

She says she then walked away but saw the fight move to the footpath.

"Vincent got hit quite hard and he hit the ground and he got back up and Luke hit him again and he went into the front garden of a house where there was no fence."

She said she didn't see the moment Mr Tipene got hit but heard the reaction from other people on the street.

"I then heard glass smash and a collective gasp from the group and turned around and almost immediately Luke was walking towards me... a girl was following after him hysterical".

She told the court at the time she didn't realise the severity of the wound until Mr Tipene "walked over the sidewalk and collapsed".

The boy who was allegedly harassing the girl denied bothering her but told the court he texted Mr Tipene when it looked clear there was going to be trouble.

Mr Tipene then replied "Yo, I got you" before turning up in a car.

The fight started out one-on-one before Skeen stepped in and punched him, the witness said, which prompted Mr Tipene to also step in.

It was then an "all-in brawl".

"I remember hearing lots of bottles smashing and getting thrown around as we were fighting."

He said his friends later called him to come help as Mr Tipene had been injured, and he saw him bloodied and struggling to stay standing.

He then took off his shirt to apply pressure to the wound and stop the bleeding.

Another witness, Taitimuroa Akuhata, said he noticed Mr Tipene had been injured after hearing a girl scream.

"After that, I kind of just ran out and someone gave me a T-shirt and I put the T-shirt on his neck and kind of rolled him into the recovery position".

He said spent around 15 to 20 minutes trying to stem the blood flow before an ambulance arrived.

On Monday Crown lawyer Zannah Johnston told the court in her opening statement that Mr Tipene died after a broken bottle pierced his jugular vein.

She said Skeen either intended to kill or seriously harm Mr Tipene and was reckless about whether that caused his death – meaning he should be convicted of murder.

Skeen's lawyer Lorraine Smith said he should be convicted of manslaughter as he was unaware his actions could kill Mr Tipene.

The trial in Auckland's High Court is set down for three weeks.

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