A Sydney man who denies murdering his friend on his birthday saw him being shot dead but deliberately chose not to tell police he was present, his barrister has told a jury.
Gazi Safarjalani, 37, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his former coffee-shop partner, Bill Panagakos, at an intersection in Petersham late at night on his 45th birthday on March 4, 2014.
In the defence opening address in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Tony Evers said if his client told police he saw the shooting he might have ended up in court having to name the person who killed his friend.
But he asked what that would have meant for Safarjalani and his family, telling the jury that Mr Panagakos "associated with people you might think may be dangerous".
Earlier, crown prosecutor Adrian Robertson alleged Safarjalani was one of two men seen approaching Mr Panagakos at the intersection before five shots were fired at him at close range.
He said the Crown did not have to prove that Safarjalani was the shooter but that he was part of a joint criminal enterprise or an agreement to carry out the crime.
Mr Panagakos died after being shot with a handgun - three times in the head and once in the shoulder, while a fifth bullet left a graze on his arm.
He had celebrated his birthday with his wife before receiving a phone call, telling her he was going to see some friends, would be away for about four hours and that he would get a taxi as he would be drinking.
Mr Robertson said Safarjalani first told police he believed his friend could have been killed over money as he was a big gambler, but later said he understood the death related to 254 kilograms of pseudoephedrine, used to manufacture the drug ice.
The jury would hear secretly recorded conversations between Safarjalani and his wife, as well as some recorded after his arrest in February 2017.
In one, he allegedly referred to police documents about Mr Panagakos being shot in the head, before he said "it's not a pretty sight seeing something like that" and "that's why I went crazy".
Mr Evers said he anticipated the jury would hear evidence that Mr Panagakos had described Safarjalani "as better than a brother".
"There is no evidence of any animosity between Mr Panagakos and the accused," he said.
Neither was there evidence of any falling out between them or that his client bore any ill-will towards his friend.
The trial continues before Justice Michael Walton.
Australian Associated Press