Tamate Heke is accused of the manslaughter of a man he punched into the path of a truck. (file)A man accused of killing a man he punched into the path of a rubbish truck on a busy Brisbane motorway retaliated in self-defence amid a road-rage attack, his trial has heard.
Factory worker Tamate Heke was driving home from a 12-hour shift when he was tailgated and challenged to pull over on the afternoon of December 1, 2015, the Brisbane Supreme Court was told.
During the manslaughter trial’s opening on Monday, CCTV footage was shown of Heke and Shane Merrigan arguing after stopping their cars near an exit on the Gateway Motorway.
Heke’s defence barrister Joshua Fenton said his client had been pushed twice and punched in the face before striking Mr Merrigan.
That blow caused Mr Merrigan to topple backwards onto the motorway where he was run over by the rear wheels of the rubbish truck.
Heke later told police he tried to catch Mr Merrigan as he fell over after being hit.
When asked why he punched Mr Merrigan, Heke told investigators he wanted him to “back off”, Mr Fenton said.
Crown prosecutor David Meredith, however, argued Heke had never been pushed or hit by Mr Merrigan.
“Shane Merrigan did not even touch him,” he said.
“Shane Merrigan approaches (Heke) but makes no further move towards him, and while he might be speaking he does not strike or even threaten to strike the accused by his physical movements.”
Both sides agreed the CCTV evidence would be critical to the cases they were putting to the jury.
The rubbish truck driver, Clinton Livingstone, said there was no hope of his 13.7 tonne vehicle avoiding Mr Merrigan.
In the witness box, Mr Livingstone said he saw Heke and Mr Merrigan outside their cars near an exit on the motorway and sounded his horn to warn them.
“They seemed a bit agitated and they were quite close to each other,” he said.
“It looked like it was in an aggressive manner.”
While approaching the pair at about 90km/h, he saw Heke punch Mr Merrigan before feeling something under his tyres.
Mr Meredith asked the truck driver if he had any opportunity to avoid the men.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Not at that speed.”
The trial continues.