A memorial remains near the site of where South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo was killed in August 2019. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Teen charged in South Surrey mechanic’s death claimed it was result of a gang hit, court hears

Witness agrees accused youth 'was a frequent liar'

One of two teens charged with murder in connection with the August 2019 stabbing death of Paul Prestbakmo in South Surrey sat hunched over in the prisoner’s dock Wednesday (Jan. 20) as a witness recounted words he allegedly said to her the day after the killing.

“He said it’s all (his co-accused)’s fault,” the witness said. “He said that (his co-accused) just got angry and (he) was too scared to tell him no and he was scared that (his co-accused) would hurt him as well.

“He said that (his co-accused) was stabbing the man repeatedly.”

The accused also claimed the stabbing was the result of a gang hit put on the victim, the witness said.

“He said that a couple weeks before the stabbing happened, Red Scorpions came to them and they they put a hit on this guy or something. He said, so when (they) went out that night, they saw (the victim). (One accused) went up behind him and stabbed him in the neck and then (the other) stabbed him repeatedly.”

The witness was testifying on day seven of the trial, which is underway at Surrey Provincial Court in connection with Prestbakmo’s death and the assault of a White Rock senior; the latter occurred just a few hours before Prestbakmo was killed.

READ MORE: White Rock RCMP seeking information about Aug. 16 assault

READ MORE: Trial underway in 2019 murder of South Surrey mechanic Paul Prestbakmo

Two youth were charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the connection with the attacks. Both entered pleas of not guilty at the start of the trial, on Jan. 11. A ban prevents publication of their names or details that could identify them publicly.

Several youth have taken the stand to give evidence since the trial began, providing – in response to questions from Crown and defense counsel – their versions of events from the hours in question and days after, including regarding the two accused’s moods and conversations before and after the attacks.

The first witness to testify Wednesday (Jan. 20) said the accused told her that he and his co-accused were angry the night of the stabbing. He also told her that when they returned afterwards to a South Surrey house where several youth had gathered that night, “he changed and he doused himself in perfume,” she said.

Responding to questions from defense counsel Kevin Westell, the witness confirmed that she, one of the accused and another male used marijuana and “were all addicted to Molly (MDMA)” at the time in question, and in the months leading up to it.

She agreed with Westell that use of such drugs affects awareness of time and impairs memories, but disagreed that that was the case regarding the night in question.

“No, it’s very clear,” she said.

“That period of time when that man got stabbed, my brain is clear on what happened and what I was doing.”

The witness also agreed with Westell that the accused “was somebody that would often tell lies” and liked “to portray himself as a tough guy.”

The second witness on Wednesday told the court that she also heard the accused say that the stabbing was gang-related, and that he directed blame towards his co-accused.

A third witness expressed reluctance to testify, specifically when asked to read from a statement he gave to police regarding what one of the accused had said to him. The request came after the youth told the court he didn’t remember what was said.

“Must I? Do I have to?” the youth asked.

Told yes, he sighed and read out what he’d told police: “He was telling me that he stabbed him in the neck and (his co-accused) was behind him.”

The youth also told police that the accused has told stories in the past, and that he didn’t know if he believed him.

Reading again from his statement to police, the youth said the accused “was blaming it all on (his co-accused) pretty much.”

In response to Westell, the youth confirmed he was confident he told the truth at the time, but that he’s not confident it happened.

“You knew (the accused) to be a frequent liar, correct?” Westell said.

“Correct,” the youth responded.

Several members of Prestbakmo’s family were in court Wednesday to hear the testimony. Outside court, his sister Angela said some of the evidence has been difficult to hear. Her brother, who was 45 when he died, was the third member of her family to have been stabbed to death, she noted. Both her grandmother and her uncle were also killed, she said.

“And now, this.”

The trial, set for 24, is to continue on Monday (Jan. 25).


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