Accused bottleshop worker killer to claim self-defence

A teenager accused of stabbing a Darwin bottleshop worker to death is set to claim he acted in self-defence.

Declan Laverty, 20, was on shift at a BWS near Darwin airport when he was allegedly stabbed to death by Keith Kerinauia, 19, who was on bail for aggravated assault. 

Kerinauia has been charged with murder and will stand trial in the Supreme Court in June.

In a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, Northern Territory Chief Justice Michael Grant asked Kerinauia's lawyer Peter Maley why the case would likely take more than 10 days.

"Presumably the issue here is self defence, is it?" Justice Grant said.

"That is so," Mr Maley responded.

Declan Laverty's death sparked protests for tougher laws on crime.
Declan Laverty's death sparked protests and petitions for tougher laws on crime.

Prosecution lawyer Marty Aust said he would need to call more than 50 witnesses for the "slightly novel" trial.

"Where an abnormal aspect arises is that the entire incident is captured on CCTV footage," Mr Aust said.

"This is a slightly novel matter in that there's 28 civilian witnesses and 23 police witnesses."

Prosecutors are set to submit evidence for jury consideration about allegations against Kerinauia before the incident.

"If you have a tendency to engage in unprovoked violent attacks with a state of mind to be thrilled and excited by violence which extends over a long period of time - that is relevant," Mr Aust said.

The matter is set down for another hearing in February before the trial begins on June 7.

Mr Laverty's death in March, which came at the end of a summer marked by increased crime rates, sent shockwaves through the NT, sparking protests and petitions.

One petition, spearheaded by his mother, Samara Laverty, garnered more than 26,000 signatures and called for the government to enact "Declan's Law", demanding tougher bail laws for first-time and repeat offenders and stricter weapon restrictions.

The government in March passed bail law reforms meaning people charged with serious offences involving certain weapons would be subject to a presumption against bail.

In July the government passed new "wanding" laws, allowing police to search people for weapons in 16 "high-risk" areas in the NT.

But Ms Laverty, the NT opposition and thousands of signatories continue to lobby the government, saying the laws don't go far enough to address crime rates.

The high-profile murder trial will be held just weeks before the NT election, where crime laws are likely to be a major issue.

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