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Father knifed 13 times in Norwich by 'complete stranger', court hears

PUBLISHED: 12:18 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 June 2019

David Hastings           Picture: Norfolk Police

David Hastings Picture: Norfolk Police

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A father-of-two murdered near a Norwich car park suffered 13 stab wounds in a "brutal" and "unprovoked" attack, a court heard.

Rolands Heinbergs      PIC: From Rolands Heinberg's Facebook pageRolands Heinbergs PIC: From Rolands Heinberg's Facebook page

David Hastings, 48, was knifed in his back, chest, neck and mouth while walking away from the Rose Lane car park with his girlfriend in the early hours of June 23 last year.

Rolands Heinbergs, 23, of HMP Belmarsh, is on trial at Norwich Crown Court having pleaded not guilty to his murder.

Prosecutor Wayne Cleaver told the jury that Mr Hastings was a compete stranger to the defendant and just happened to be in the "wrong place at the wrong time".

He said CCTV cameras from the area showed the victim waiting outside the car park toilets while his girlfriend went inside to use them.

Mr Cleaver said the defendant had followed them and stood nearby until she exited.

"Footage shows the defendant reaching into his right hand pocket and producing a knife," Mr Cleaver said. "He [Heinbergs] approaches Mr Hastings from behind as they begin to walk away. It is then that the attack begins. " He said the victim was struck from behind "violently and with force".

Mr Cleaver said: "Mr Hastings did what he could to get away.

"He fell to the ground and tried to get up. While on his knees the defendant struck at him again.

"It looks like at that point he struck him in the neck with the knife.

"Mr Hastings fell to the ground dying while the defendant ran off."

Mr Cleaver described the attack as "brutal" and "unprovoked".

He told the court Mr Hastings suffered stab wounds to his heart, lung, liver and to his artery in his neck. He said the injuries were "extensive" and caused "catastrophic blood loss."

Mr Cleaver said: "He [Mr Hastings] did not stand a chance.

"There were no defensive injuries. There was no time for Mr Hastings to escape the onslaught."

The court heard how Heinbergs arrived in the UK from Latvia in January last year.

He found work initially with the delivery firm TNT through an employment agency based in Thetford. He was then found work at a Suffolk food business.

Mr Cleaver said in mid to late June he returned to the agency with his bag and told a member of staff he would be returning to Latvia.

The court heard how Heinbergs appeared "unkempt" at the time.

On June 21 he arrived in Norwich and the following day he was seen purchasing a kitchen knife from the Morrison's store at the Riverside Retail Park at about 1pm.

Mr Cleaver said on the night of the attack, an SOS bus volunteer saw a man wearing a black backpack staring "intently" at Mr Hastings and his friend as they were sitting outside a shop.

"Her impression was that David Hastings and his friend were oblivious to the man looking at them," Mr Cleaver said.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of the attack recorded from outside the Rose Lane car park toilets.

It shows a man wearing a black backpack stab Mr Hastings repeatedly. At one point the victim's girlfriends attempts to protect her partner.

Mr Cleaver said the attacker ran off down Mountergate.

Police began an immediate search of the area and at about 3.45am the Heinbergs was seen on Mountergate, the court heard.

Mr Cleaver said: "The officers in that time had already began to gather CCTV. They viewed it and he was recognised as a suspect."

Heinbergs was arrested and was found to have blood on his hands, Mr Cleaver said.

"That blood was swabbed and tested positive against a blood sample from Mr Hastings," Mr Cleaver said.

"It is a one in a billion chance of it being someone else's blood."

He said Heinbergs referred to the fact that he had just killed someone when he was arrested by officers.

He was asked where the knife was and gestured to a bush. However, Mr Cleaver said the murder weapon was never found.

The court heard how Mr Hastings, formerly of Long Row, Norwich, had two adult children. Despite living in a home of his own, he spent a lot of time with the homeless in Norwich city centre.

The trial continues.

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