‘I killed’ text was sent by man accused of Norwich knife murder, court hears

PUBLISHED: 15:04 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:26 29 May 2019

Rolands Heinbergs      PIC: From Rolands Heinberg's Facebook page

Rolands Heinbergs PIC: From Rolands Heinberg's Facebook page


A man accused of a “brutal” knife murder in Norwich sent a chilling “I killed” text message in the hours after the incident, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Picture of David Hastings (right) left at Rose Lane. PIC: Peter WalshPicture of David Hastings (right) left at Rose Lane. PIC: Peter Walsh

Rolands Heinbergs, 23, of HMP Belmarsh, is on trial having pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Hastings, 48.

The court heard Mr Hastings 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.

The father-of-two suffered 13 stab wounds in a "brutal" and "unprovoked" attack, according to prosecutor Wayne Cleaver.

He told the jury that Mr Hastings was a complete stranger to the defendant and just happened to be in the "wrong place at the wrong time".

Mr Cleaver said that at the police station Heinbergs made no comment during interview.

However, when he was asked why he was smirking, the defendant told police he was smiling due to the "voices in his head".

Police seized Heinbergs's mobile phone and found text messages which had to be translated from Lithuanian to English.

Mr Cleaver said the first, sent at 1.55am, read: "I will probably go to prison now depending on whether you want to collect me."

The second, sent at 1.59am, read: "I killed. If caught, will have to go to prison."

Further analysis of his phone enabled officers to identify his location during the night.

Mr Cleaver said the phone's data revealed it - and by "implication" Heinbergs - had been around the location of the attack.

Mr Cleaver said Mr Hastings's wounds were examined by a pathologist during a post mortem.

He said: "It does not appear as though the knife he purchased at Morrison's is of the same dimensions as the weapon used to inflict the injuries.

"If that was not the knife then it follows logically that Mr Heinbergs was armed with two knives that night."

He said neither of the knives were recovered by police.

Earlier, Mr Clever 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 having 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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