A JURY has been told that a man is standing trial for the second time over the murder of restaurant worker Surjit Singh Chhokar.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that Ronnie Coulter, from Wishaw, was tried and acquitted in 1999 of stabbing 32-year-old Mr Chhokar to death.

These facts came out as defence QC Donald Findlay questioned Mr Chhokar’s former partner, Elizabeth Bryce.

Mr Coulter, 48, denies murdering Mr Chhokar in Overtown, North Lanarkshire, in November 1998.

He has lodged a special defence blaming his nephew Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery.

Mr Findlay asked Ms Bryce if Ronnie Coulter had been sitting in the dock alone when she gave evidence in March 1999. She replied: “Yes.”

Mr Findlay then said: “So there was no Montgomery in the dock and no Andrew Coulter.” Ms Bryce replied: “No.”

The QC went on: “At the time of that trial Ronnie Coulter was acquitted of the charge of murder wasn’t he.”

Ms Bryce answered: “As far as I know, yes.”

The jury was then told that Ms Bryce, 56, also gave evidence in 2000 when Mr Montgomery and Andrew Coulter stood trial and were acquitted.

Mr Findlay said: “This time there was no Ronnie in the dock. It was Montgomery and Andrew Coulter.” Ms Bryce replied: “Uhu.”

The QC then produced the original indictment against Ronnie Coulter in which he was charged with stabbing Mr Chhokar, along with others unknown. Jurors were also shown the indictment for the trial in 2000. The court also heard from PC David Rattray, who was the first policeman on the scene after Mr Chhokar was fatally injured.

PC Rattray said that, at the scene and in an ambulance en route to hospital, Ms Bryce only gave him the name of one of the three men she said were involved.

When asked by Mr Findlay: “Did she name Andrew Coulter,” he replied: “Yes.”

The QC added: “It seems she didn’t say anything to indicate she knew the names of the other two.” PC Rattray replied: “No.”

The trial before Lord Matthews continues.