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Co-accused in Springbank murder of Uber driver claims innocence, court hears

Andrew Christal is on trial for second-degree murder in the Dec. 29, 2019 killing of Uber driver Kasif Hirani, whose body was found on a rural road near Springbank Airport

An Airdrie man on trial for second-degree murder continues to assert his innocence in the death of a Calgarian whose body was found on a rural road near Springbank Airport in late 2019.

Andrew Christal is before a jury this week for the death of Kasif Hirani, who was killed in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2019.  

Hirani was stabbed 25 times in his abdomen, face, neck and hands. The Uber driver's body was discovered by a man out walking his dog later that morning.

A cigarette butt found 15 feet from the deceased's body was found to have Christal's DNA. He is co-accused in the murder along with Robert Daignault and Trista Tinkler, the latter of whom was handed a six-year manslaughter sentence for her role in Hirani's death following her trial in February.

Christal said in a video-recorded police interview put before the court on April 19 that he witnessed Daignault stab Hirani and alleges he did not have any role in Hirani's death. 

"We went for a ride and I didn't even know where we were going ... I didn't even know what was going on," he said, admitting he was high on drugs at the time, namely cocaine. 

Tinkler, who was one of the first witnesses called to the bench in Christal's trial at its commencement April 11, claims that she was aware of a plan to rob Hirani — a friend of hers — but said that she did not know he would be killed. 

She admitted in her testimony to luring Hirani with the promise of sex for money. Tinkler said they met in the parking lot of the Regal Beagle Pub in Calgary on 94 Ave. S.W. after she met Christal there for drinks that evening. 

Tinkler and Christal parted ways and the woman left with Hirani to buy a box of condoms at a nearby gas station and then went to a liquor store with him, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court by prosecutor Vince Pingitore. She and Hirani then drove to the home where Tinkler was staying with Daignault, her boyfriend. 

Hirani was forced into the back seat of his own vehicle from there. According to Christal, who was also present at the home, Daignault drove the car away with Tinkler in the passenger seat with Hirani behind her and Christal seated on the back driver's side. 

Christal said he went along for the ride but denied forcing Hirani into the vehicle.

Investigators found the deceased's blood on both sides of the back seat of the car. 

“I’m being honest with you. I never stabbed him, but I did hold him,” Christal admitted, after initially insisting he didn't make any contact with Hirani.

Daignault pulled Hirani from the car on the rural road in west Rocky View County after the deceased gave up his banking information, according to Christal. 

“He just pretty much ripped him out,” he said in the police interview played before the jury. 

“And then he started stabbing him and then he’s like [telling me to] get out of the car,” Christal said, adding that the act occurred at the side of the vehicle.

Hirani's credit card was used following his death and money was taken from his bank account. 

Christal's trial continues Wednesday and is expected to wrap later this week. He is represented by defence lawyer Jim Lutz.

Daignault was supposed to stand trial before a jury in January of this year. The proceedings were stalled due to the accused testing positive for COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre. He is now set to appear in a judge-alone trial next January.