Details Of Punk Fan's Murder Emerge As Trial Commences In Canberra

16 November 2015 | 4:13 pm | Staff Writer

Beloved scene identity Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber, aka the 'Ginger Ninja', was killed by his former housemate in December 2013

The trial over the murder of well-known Canberra punk-scene identity Nicholas Sofer-Schreiber, aka the 'Ginger Ninja', has commenced in the ACT Supreme Court, nearly two years after the arrest of defendant Christopher Navin.

As the ABC reports, the court has heard that Navin, 29, allegedly stabbed Sofer-Schreiber "73 times, with lacerations to his neck, while he was sitting at his dining table" at his house in Lyneham on the evening of Boxing Day 2013.

According to the ABC, Navin has not denied killing Sofer-Schreiber, "but has pleaded not guilty by way of mental impairment".

Prosecutors allege that Navin, who had lived with Sofer-Schreiber in the latter's house until June 2013 before "a bitter split", took two knives from his own home to Sofer-Schreiber's residence, committed the murder, then fled to a family property in Grafton, NSW, where police claim that Navin disposed of the knives by burning them and throwing them into a dam. 

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The Canberra Times reports that Sofer-Schreiber had actually filed a civil action against Navin following a dispute over repair costs for damage to Sofer-Schreiber's house, but the matter had settled out of court.

According to Fairfax, Navin later "repeatedly call[ed] and text[ed]" Sofer-Schreiber in an effort to re-establish contact in the months before the killing; the pair apparently "chatted at Christmas Drinks on December 24 and organised to meet, but Mr Sofer-Schreiber then ignored Navin's calls", before "a chance encounter" on Boxing Day during which Sofer-Schreiber "bought a tent at the Canberra Centre … but did not speak". The fatal attack occurred that evening.

Prior to his death, Sofer-Schreiber had been a stalwart fixture of the Canberra punk scene, with his energy and passion for live music carrying his notoriety well beyond the ACT to Sydney. As journalist and ex-Unpaid Debt frontman Joseph Catanzaro told at the time, "Nick was the bloke you'd bump into at shows all over the country … everybody knew him, and everybody loved him."

"There was no fame or fortune in it for Nick," he wrote in a tribute post at the time. "He was there, a regular and a stalwart, because of his genuine love and passion for music. He didn't take the stage, but in his own way, he was famous and loved."

The trial is ongoing.

Following on from last year's inaugural Gingerfest, the Aussie punk community is set to unite for a follow-up celebration in December this year at Sydney's Factory Theatre in 2015, taking over the space on Saturday 19 December with Gay ParisThe PorkersThe Stiffys and several others.