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Blood of murdered Norwich man found on hands of accused, court hears

PUBLISHED: 18:05 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:05 29 May 2019

David Hastings           Picture: Norfolk Police

David Hastings Picture: Norfolk Police

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The blood of a murdered father-of-two was found on the hands of a man accused of killing him near a Norwich car park, a court heard.

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

David Hastings, 48, was stabbed 13 times in what prosecutors say was a "brutal" and "unprovoked" attack near Rose Lane car park in the early hours of June 23 last year.

Rolands Heinbergs, 23, of HMP Belmarsh, is standing trial at Norwich Crown Court after pleading not guilty to his murder.

Prosecutor Wayne Cleaver told a jury on Wednesday that Mr Hastings was a "complete stranger" to the defendant and was in the "wrong place at the wrong time".

The attack was captured on CCTV and was played to the court.

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

It showed the victim waiting outside the car park toilets while his girlfriend, Karen Althoff, went inside to use them.

A second person, who prosecutors claim is Heinbergs, can be seen waiting nearby.

Mr Cleaver said: "Footage shows the defendant reaching into his right hand pocket and producing a knife.

"He [Heinbergs] approaches Mr Hastings from behind as they begin to walk away. It is then that the attack begins."

Forensic investigators at Rose Lane car park. Pic: Peter Walsh.Forensic investigators at Rose Lane car park. Pic: Peter Walsh.

He said the victim was struck from behind "violently and with force".

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

"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.

Friends of David Hastings paid tribute to him after he was stabbed to death at Rose Lane car park. Picture: Dominic GilbertFriends of David Hastings paid tribute to him after he was stabbed to death at Rose Lane car park. Picture: Dominic Gilbert

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

The court heard how the attacker fled the scene in the direction of Mountergate.

Police were called and carried out an immediate search of the area, locating Heinbergs at about 3.45am on Mountergate.

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

Forensic investigators searching the car park behind Rose Lane. Photo: Melissa Jane PorterForensic investigators searching the car park behind Rose Lane. Photo: Melissa Jane Porter

Heinbergs was arrested and was found to have blood on his hands, the court heard.

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

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

He said Heinbergs also referred to having killed someone when he was arrested by officers.

When he was asked by police about the knife, Mr Cleaver said Heinbergs gestured towards a bush. However, the murder weapon was never found.

Heinbergs was interviewed by police, but gave no comment.

Mr Cleaver said that during the interview officers asked the defendant why he was smirking. He said 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.

One of them, 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 had been around the location of the attack at the time of the incident.

Mr Hastings, formerly of Long Row, Norwich, suffered stab wounds to his heart, lung liver and carotid artery.

The court heard that his 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 victim was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where attempts to revive him her unsuccessful.

He was declared dead at 1.22am on June 23.

On June 22 Heinbergs was seen purchasing a kitchen knife from the Morrison's store at the Riverside Retail Park.

Mr Cleaver said packaging for that knife was found in a bin which CCTV showed the attacker briefly stopping at following the stabbing.

However, Mr Cleaver said evidence from a pathologist who examined Mr Hastings's wounds suggested the kitchen knife was not used.

He told the court: "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."

Mr Hastings lived in a home of his own, but spent a lot of time with the homeless in Norwich city centre. The trial continues.

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