A man who shot dead an Indian postgraduate student at point blank range as he made his way to the Boxing Day sales later had a teardrop tattooed on to his face – a symbol that can signify that the wearer has killed someone, a court heard yesterday.
Kiaran Stapleton, 21, visited a tattoo shop two days after opening fire on Anuj Bidve as he walked in the early hours with a group of friends through Salford, Greater Manchester. According to the prosecution, the father-of-one was warned by staff at the Candy Skull in Swinton of the possible meaning of the design he had selected.
"This was pointed out to Kiaran Stapleton in an effort to ensure that this was what he really wanted, and he said words to the effect that he had killed his goldfish and did that count? The tattoo was done for him, as he requested, and he left the shop," said Brian Cummings QC.
Manchester Crown Court heard that Mr Stapleton, who has admitted manslaughter but denies murder on grounds of diminished responsibility, had no connection with Mr Bidve or his eight friends, who were walking close to his estate in Ordsall.
Mr Bidve was studying electronics at Lancaster University and had decided along with three male and five female friends – all from India and Pakistan – to spend Christmas Day in Manchester. As they made their way into the city to join early morning shopping queues, the group encountered Mr Stapleton and his friend Ryan Holden, who is a witness for the prosecution. The gunman crossed the road to approach them, asking the time and without warning produced a weapon, putting it to the head of Anuj Bidve. He then fired a shot, leaving Mr Bidve fatally injured. "The gunman smirked or laughed and ran off," the prosecution said.
Mr Stapleton and Mr Holden had spent Christmas evening "chilling" and drinking with others at the home of a mutual friend Kyle Meighan – known as Mego – on the Ordsall estate. During the course of the evening one of the party claimed that Mr Stapleton's former partner Chelsea Holden – cousin of Ryan Holden – had slept with another man while they were living together. Mr Holden said his friend had been "pissed off" and told the others: "If I see him, I'll kill him."
Mr Cummings said: "He then went on to say something to the effect that this had been the worst year for him – he'd lost his girlfriend, lost his house, lost his licence and hardly saw his kid."
The pair left their friend's house to look for food but no restaurants were open. As they went home they encountered the overseas students, who were guiding themselves to the shops with a GPS phone.
After the shooting, the pair used back alleys to return to Mr Stapleton's house, where they took showers and changed clothes. The prosecution said remnants from the items were later recovered from a bonfire in the garden of Mr Stapleton's sister.
The following day the pair travelled to Leigh, stopping off to view the crime scene. On 27 December Mr Stapleton checked into a hotel overlooking the place where Mr Bidve was shot. There he was visited by friends while CCTV footage captured him looking out of the window.
The trial, which is expected to last four weeks, continues.