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Ambach describes self as regular, "normal"

Thu 25 Jun 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Ambach trial Day 4 "Normal... normal" was how a High Court jury today heard alleged murderer Ferdinand Ambach describe himself in english when a video tape of of his first police interview was played in court. Ronald Brown Moments before, through a police interpreter, Ambach had described himself to the interviewing officer as "a regular person. I have a girlfriend," followed by "I don't know what's going on." The interview was conducted minutes after Ambach had been found in the house where the attack occurred shortly after midnight. Ambach, a 32-year old Hungarian tourist, is on trial for the murder of elderly gay Onehunga man Ronald Brown in December 2007. He has pleaded not guilty and says he has no recollection of the attack which left Brown's home trashed and Brown so badly beaten he died two days later. Ambach said he had been in New Zealand for just three weeks. He had purchased a car on arrival but had written it off in a crash six hours later after driving on the 'European' side of the road. He said he had a girlfriend in Hungary. Of the night of the killing Ambach says he started drinking at an unnamed bar, was walking home in the rain and sought shelter in the 306 Bar where he had a beer and met Brown. He says that when the pair went to Brown's home they "sat down and chatted and I was happy I could practise my english." He said he was drinking Jim Beam and Cola and "everything was fine." He denied taking drugs. Ambach said in the taped interview that Brown came close to him and touched his thigh and foldled him. He then said he didn't want to to talk about it. However he went on to say that Brown went upstairs, turned the lights down and "asked me to come upstairs where I had never been before." He said he didn't know where he was, didn't know Onehunga and had no money. Brown had invited him to stay the night. Ambach recalled being on an outside terrace at one point, thinking of jumping the fence. The next thing he says he remembers was being handcuffed with police everywhere. It was at this point in the interview that he stated he was a "regular," "normal" person. DEVASTATION Earlier today the jury heard a police officer describe the scene of devastation in the house, which a witness described yesterday as being the home of a meticulous person, commenting "If you put a drink down without a coaster you'd hear about it." The officer said tiles were falling from the ceiling due to water damage from above. There was broken and up-ended furniture, including an upside down table with an exercise machine upside down on top of it; chairs on their backs and a curtain torn down; broken drinking glasses and a vacuum cleaner attachment with fecal matter in the narrow end and under it. The officer says there was also fecal matter smeared on the wall of the stair well. He described a large pool of blood on the stairs, with more blood running down to lower stairs. He described a considerable pile of debris on the landing halfway up the stairs, including a computer and the top part of a bathroom vanity unit. There was more blood splattered in the hallway with debris on upstairs floors including blood-splattered papers from the victim's office. In the bathroom the rest of the vanity unit was lying in the bath and where it had been torn from the wall pipes were pouring water. There was more fecal matter on the bathroom floor and a container of Lorazepam, a prescription sedative, on the hallway floor. At this point the police officer, who has been unwell, collapsed. The court was cleared for fifteen minutes after which the officer did not return. A senior sergeant from Auckland Central Police Station who arrived at Brown's home as Ambach was being arrested described the man as incredibly agitated, thrashing around, spitting and yelling things like "Jesus Christ" and "Heil Hitler" and swearing. CONSIDERABLE FORCE Moving on to medical evidence, the jury heard from the duty registrar at Auckland Public Hospital who had treated the victim. He said the elderly man had clearly been assaulted and had a large blood clot inside the left side of his skull which "meant impending doom for the patient." He also described a 6cm laceration on the top of the skull, a 3cm laceration above the left eye and an 8cm neck wound. The doctor said hospital staff worked on Brown from until 8am, including two operations to try to reduce the pressure from swelling inside the skull. He said the wounds were consistent with being hit with a blunt instrument "with considerable force." Brown died two days later when his life support was withdrawn. A post-mortem examiner described a number of head injuries and "a moderate to severe degree of trauma," the severity of which was at a level seen on people who have fallen from a great height. She was not suggesting Brown had fallen in that manner. Shown a variety of possible weapons she identified a piece of broken banjo neck as probably causing the face and skull lesions. She attributed Brown's death specifically to the injury to the left of his head and the subsequent pressure on the brain. A police doctor called to examine Ambach after the attack said the alleged killer was observed through a cell window but was too aggressive to treat. On checking the cell again soon after he saw blood smeared over the walls, the blood coming from a hand injury which Ambach had "manipulated." "He seemed hyped up," the doctor said. Ambach was transferred to hospital to have his wound treated before being returned to the cells. When examined by the doctor later in the day Ambach said he didn't recall the amount he had drunk and denied recollection of the assault. The doctor said the man was not obviously drunk. The doctor said Ambach told him he had not been sexually assaulted and appeared calm and polite. Blood was taken from Ambach at around 9 o'clock that night. An ESR scientist told the jury that no illegal drugs were detected in Ambach's blood. Brown's blood was also screened but the sample had been taken very late in the piece. Although no drugs were detected the scientist could not preclude the possibility of such substances having been present earlier. Members of Brown's family have been present each day of the trial but there has not been any obvious sign of support for Ambach. The trial continues in the Auckland High Court tomorrow and is set down for two more weeks.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 25th June 2009 - 6:59pm

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