Manning murder-accused to defend himself

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2014

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A man accused of murdering Christchurch street-worker Ngatai "Mellory" Manning is expected to conduct his own defence when his trial starts on Monday.

Mauha Huatahi Fawcett, 26, is defending charges of murdering and kidnapping the 27-year-old in December 2008.

The trial in the High Court in Christchurch is expected to take six weeks, during which more than 100 Crown witnesses will be called.

Fawcett will not be entirely alone. His former lawyer, barrister Craig Ruane, has been appointed as amicus curiae, which means counsel to assist the court.

The trial had earlier been postponed because of Fawcett's wish to represent himself.

It is rare for offenders to represent themselves at trial but not unheard of.

Rape-accused Jason John Cumming conducted his own defence at the High Court in Christchurch in November 2002, spending hours questioning the woman he was alleged to have sexually violated. He appealed his conviction and a retrial has been ordered.

The law was changed after his trial to prevent a defendant personally questioning a complainant.

Manning was last seen touting for custom on the corner of Manchester and Peterborough streets before she was picked up about 10.40pm on December 18, 2008.

She had previously given up prostitution, but went back this night without a minder to earn money for Christmas presents.

Police believe she was taken to a former Aotearoa Mongrel Mob address in Avonside and throttled, punched and struck about the head and legs with a metal bar, stabbed three times in the chest and sexually attacked.

Her body, dumped in the Avon River, was discovered the following morning.

Detective Inspector Greg Williams, who is head of the unsolved Kirsty Bentley inquiry, led the long-running and multimillion-dollar investigation into Manning's murder. Fawcett was arrested in Auckland in March 2012.

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- The Press

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