Gunman laughed after fatal shooting, trial told

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A GUNMAN who shot an Indian student dead at close range gave a “sarcastic laugh” after pulling the trigger, a jury heard yesterday.

A friend of Anuj Bidve, 23, said he saw him fall to the ground face-first after hearing a bang which he initially thought was a firecracker.

Kiaran “Psycho” Stapleton, 21, walked quickly up to the group of friends in the street in Ordsall, Salford, in the early hours of Boxing Day last year.

He calmly asked them three times what the time was and, when someone answered, he pulled out a gun without warning, put it to Mr Bidve’s head and fired one shot.

Stapleton, of Regent Square, Ordsall, admits manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denies murder.

Mr Bidve’s friend Nitish Jalali, 22, told a jury at Manchester Crown Court: “He came over and he asked what the time is and we did not respond the first time.”

He said he immediately asked the same question and finally got an answer of 1.30am from a member of the group on the third occasion.

Then he pulled the trigger, Mr Jalali said. “There was a bang sound. It sounded like a firecracker,” he added.

“Then Anuj fell flat, face-first.”

He said that as he turned around he saw the man’s hand level with Mr Bidve’s head and saw a silver patch on the top of the man’s hand.

Prosecutor Brian Cummings QC asked: “Did anything else happen?”

Mr Jalali said: “He laughed.”

Mr Cummings said: “Describe that laugh.”

He replied: “It was more of a sarcastic laugh.” He said the man appeared “perfectly normal” when asking the time and was not aggressive in any way.

A second witness, Sarang Kulkarni, said at first he was “relieved” because he only appeared to want to know the time.

“I actually thought he was lost and needed our help,” he added.

He said he saw the man in the hooded top laughing as he stood behind Mr Bidve, who was on the ground.

“I did not hear the laughter but I did see him laugh. I saw an expression on his face which I thought was of laughter,” he said.

The jury has heard that when he made his first appearance at Manchester Magistrates’ Court, Stapleton was asked if his name was Kiaran. He replied: “No, Psycho. Psycho Stapleton.”

Mr Bidve was studying for a micro-electronics postgraduate qualification at Lancaster University after arriving in the UK last September and had travelled with eight fellow students to spend Christmas in Manchester.

The trial continues.