A man accused of murder told a court it ‘blew up’ after an Uber driver challenged his friend about eating a takeaway in the back of his Mercedes. Connor McPartland, 20, and, Martin Treacy, 18, are both accused of murdering 38-year-old taxi driver Ali Asghar.
The incident in Rochdale followed a mix-up over where they wanted Mr Asghar to take them, due to a spelling error by Mr McPartland on the Uber app, the trial has heard. Prosecutors allege the pair repeatedly punched and kicked Mr Asghar in a ‘ferocious’ attack. He died two weeks later after suffering head injuries, Manchester Crown Court has heard.
Mr Treacy has admitted manslaughter but denies murder, jurors have been told. Mr McPartland denies murder and manslaughter.
Giving evidence after video footage of the incident was played, Mr McPartland admitted he was ‘ashamed’ of his behaviour in the early hours of Saturday, October 29. “I feel completely ashamed to be sat here to watch it,” he said under questioning from his barrister Mark Rhind QC. “It’s appalling. I am completely remorseful for my actions.”
“I am deeply sorry, I am ashamed, I am appalled, but I didn’t cause any serious injuries to his face.” Mr McPartland said he’d been out in Oldham town centre with Mr Treacy that night, in the Liquid nightclub.
He had drunk ’30 drinks’ including shots, spirits and beer and described himself as being ‘incredibly drunk’.
“It was good, I had a good time, a few drinks and a few laughs,” he added. Mr McPartland denied that he became angry when drunk, and said he was a polite person.
He said their plan was to meet a girl he had previously met at Koko’s nightclub in Rochdale, outside Koko’s and then head to a Halloween house party which they’d been invited to. Mr Treacy bought a chicken burger and chips from a takeaway and Mr McPartland then ordered an Uber to take them to the meeting point.
Mr McPartland made a spelling error on the booking, detailing the intended destination as Coco’s, a separate venue in Rochdale. “Obviously I put in the wrong destination,” he told jurors. “I said ‘I’ve put in the wrong destination, can I correct it?’.
Mr McPartland said Mr Asghar was happy with this, and after a new fare was agreed, they continued on. But he said an incident arose when Mr Asghar noticed Mr Treacy had started eating his takeaway in the back of the taxi.
Mr Asghar asked Mr Treacy to stop eating, but Mr Treacy told him to ‘shut the f*** up and continue driving’, according to Mr McPartland. The defendant continued: “He [Mr Asghar] got incredibly angry and then looked in the rear view mirror and said ‘what do you think you’re doing, f*****g eating in my taxi?’.
“Martin didn’t stop, he just repeated what he said again.” Mr McPartland said he asked the pair to ‘shut up’.
He claimed Mr Asghar told Mr Treacy: “You little cocky ba*****, do you want to get out and have a fight?’.”
Mr McPartland added: “It just blew up, everything happened incredibly fast.”
He said at the time he believed Mr Asghar had ‘exaggerated’ and ‘aggravated’ the situation, but he now thinks the taxi driver’s response was ‘reasonable’.
“It is his taxi, he can do what he wants, basically,” Mr McPartland said. “I have been able to look back and obviously rethink my own actions.”
Mr Asghar pulled over on Queensway in Rochdale near the Shell petrol station and a fight broke out shortly after 4am. “From my angle it looked like he had pulled Martin out of the car,” Mr McPartland said.
He said Mr Asghar and Mr Treacy, of Gawsworth Close, Oldham, traded punches and kicks until he noticed the taxi driver had a bloodied nose.
Prosecutors have alleged that the pair punched and kicked Mr Asghar. Mr McPartland denied punching him, and said Mr Treacy pushed Mr Asghar over. The taxi driver his head on the alloy wheel of his taxi, the jury has heard.
Mr McPartland, of Hollins Road, Oldham, admitted kicking Mr Asghar to the legs. He also denied threatening to stab the taxi driver with a multi tool, which he said he used for work.
The defendant added: “I never once punched him in the head or kicked him in the head, the only contact I made was when I kicked him in the leg.”
He said after noticing Mr Asghar had a bloodied nose, he tried to act as a peacemaker and persuade Mr Treacy to leave the area. Jurors were told that Mr Treacy has declined to give evidence at the trial.
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