Man Charged With Waiter's Murder

A man has appeared in court charged with murdering a waiter 16 years ago.

Ronnie Coulter, 46, is accused of striking Surjit Singh Chhokar repeatedly on the body with a knife or similar instrument and murdering him on November 4 1998 in Garrion Street, Wishaw, North Lanarkshire.

He is also accused of pursuing Mr Chhokar, repeatedly punching him on the head and body and repeatedly striking him on the head and body with a wooden baton or similar instrument while acting along with two other men during the alleged incident.

Coulter, from Wishaw, faced five charges when he appeared in the dock at the High Court in Glasgow today.

It is also alleged that he and another man broke into Mr Chhokar's house at 65 Caplaw Tower in Wishaw and stole a cooker on November 4 1998, and that he forged the waiter's signature, authorising another man to cash a giro cheque for £100.70.

Coulter is also accused of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by destroying or disposing of the knife allegedly used, and of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Lord Bannatyne continued the case to allow for further investigations following a request from Donald Findlay QC, representing Coulter.

Mr Findlay said: "Investigations are under way to ascertain when and if Mr Coulter will be fit, if ever, to stand trial in relation to this matter or if it will have to proceed in relation to examination of facts.

"It will take a number of weeks to reach a stage where a decision may be taken."

The case was continued until May 20. No pleas have been entered so far.

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