Splashes nightclub murder: 'Gunned down over debt'

Dragan Sekuljica.

Dragan Sekuljica.

The Supreme Court trial of four men accused of planning and carrying out the 2007 Splashes nightclub shooting has begun in Sydney, with jurors told the alleged catalyst for the killing was an unpaid debt that spiralled into a feud between two Wollongong families.

In his opening statements to the jury, Crown prosecutor Pat Barrett told the court Dragan Sekuljica was first shot at while trying to get into a taxi outside the Cliff Road nightclub just before 3am on September 8, 2007.

Mr Sekuljica ran back into the club but was followed by the gunman, who fired the fatal shots inside the premises, before fleeing in a waiting car.

Mr Barrett told jurors during the course of the trial they would likely hear that the origin of the shooting was a falling out over money allegedly owed to Mr Sekuljica by one of his accused killers, Dalibor Bubanja.

Footage of the  suspect leaving Novotel on the night of shooting.

Footage of the suspect leaving Novotel on the night of shooting.

The Crown alleges Bubanja, along with Jason Hristovski and two other men, who can only be referred to as "C" and "M" for legal reasons, had planned to kill Mr Sekuljica, and played different parts in organising and carrying out the crime.

All four men have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and shoot with intent to murder.

A fifth man,JI, acted as the driver for the alleged shooter, M. Jurors were told JI has been given immunity from prosecution in return for giving evidence against his four alleged accomplices.

On Wednesday, Mr Barrett told jurors during the course of the trial, they would likely hear that Mr Sekuljica and Bubanja had had a falling out over money allegedly owed to Mr Sekuljica by Bubanja.

Mr Barrett said the dispute developed into a deep feud that divided Wollongong's Serbian community.

"It became well known among people associated with the two groups that there was this dislike, this dispute between them," he said.

Mr Barrett said in late August 2007 the dispute escalated, culminating in a meeting between Bubanja and Mr Sekuljica at the North Wollongong Hotel involving a heated discussion in the beer garden.

The court heard some of the accused met at other Wollongong locations after that to discuss what was to happen to Mr Sekuljica, and the decision was made to kill him.

C allegedly recruited M to carry out the shooting, and enlisted JI as the driver.

Mr Barrett said jurors would likely hear evidence from JI that on the night of the killing he and M picked up a revolver and dark clothing before heading to the nightclub.

Once there, with Bubanja providing surveillance of Mr Sekuljica, it is alleged M emerged from behind nearby bush and fired "two to three" shots towards Mr Sekuljica and two other men as they were about to enter a taxi parked on Cliff Road.

Mr Sekuljica fled back inside the club, pursued by the shooter, who fired a further two shots inside the premises, fatally wounding Mr Sekuljica and hitting a security guard in the arm.

He then ran towards the waiting car, driven by JI, who then allegedly took him back to his Sydney home.

Mr Barrett said jurors will also hear M was paid about $20,000 to carry out the shooting.

The trial, before Justice Robert Hulme, continues.