Murder suspect feared for his own life as Uber driver slain

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As Calgary Uber driver Kasif Hirani was being repeatedly stabbed on a rural road west of the city, murder suspect Andrew Christal said he could do nothing to intervene.

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“I was scared to die if I tried to help him,” Christal told defence lawyer Jim Lutz on Thursday.

Taking the witness stand in his own defence, Christal said he was not privy to any plan to rob or stab Hirani when he went for a drive with the victim and two co-accused, Robert Daignault and Trista Tinkler, in Hirani’s car.

“I was just there to get high,” Christal said of his decision to return to the residence where Tinkler was staying when she called him to come do drugs.

Christal told a Court of Queen’s Bench jury he had no idea where they were driving to when they ended up on Rural Road 40 near the Springbank Airport west of the city, with Daignault at the wheel.

But along the way, he said Daignault, who has yet to stand trial, and Tinkler, who earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter for her role in the killing, began demanding Hirani provide his bank card numbers.

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“I was like, ‘just give him the information’ so (Hirani) could walk. I thought he’d walk away,” Christal told Lutz.

“I just wanted him to get out of there,” said Christal, who is charged with first-degree murder in Hirani’s Dec. 29, 2019, death.

Both Tinkler and Daignault continued to demand the information from Hirani and the Calgary man eventually gave in.

But Daignault became enraged when the Uber driver threatened revenge over the hijacking of his car and the theft of his banking information.

“He said something to Rob that really got on Rob’s nerves. He said he’d get someone after Rob, Trista Tinkler and Rob,” Christal said.

“As soon as he heard that (Daignault) stopped, got out of the car and . . . opened the back door (and) ripped Mr. Hirani out of the vehicle.”

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Christal, who told RCMP interrogators he had held the victim while Daignault stabbed him, said he actually only reached out to steady him as his co-accused was roughing him up.

“I was trying to help him to not fall,” the accused told Lutz.

“Rob pulled out a knife and started stabbing him,” Christal said, testifying he backed off as the assault continued.

“I could see him getting stabbed over and over and over again, and Rob would not stop. It was the most horrifying, scariest thing I’ve ever had to witness,” he said.

“It was a nightmare.”

Under cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Vince Pingitore noted Christal told police “all I did was flippin’ grab him while he stabbed him.”

“It wasn’t what I meant,” Christal said.

Jurors return to court on Monday.

Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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