Accused 'haunted' after murder

04:03, Feb 24 2014
Ngatai "Mellory" Manning.
Ngatai "Mellory" Manning.

Murder-accused Mauha Huatahi Fawcett told police he felt "haunted" after the death of Christchurch sex worker Mellory Manning.

In a four-hour interview with the police, the 26-year-old Mongrel Mob prospect told the interviewing officer, Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald: "My fear is bigger than my pain."

Fitzgerald said: "We also have to deal with the haunting for the rest of your life too."

In the recorded interview, played to the trial in the High Court in Christchurch today, Fawcett replies: "I know the haunting, Tom. I feel it every day. I try to hide it away but it gets worser and worser every time I think about it."

Fitzgerald: "I can see it in your eyes."

Fawcett: "One day I am going to have to come back to Christchurch. That's what scares me the most."

The officer told Fawcett to "get rid of the burden, mate".

Fawcett denies the murder of Manning, 27, who the Crown says was taken to a Mongrel Mob gang pad in Avonside on December 18, 2008.

She was beaten, strangled, and stabbed over money she owed, either for drugs or for a Mob "tax" on sex workers, the prosecution says.

The trial before Justice David Gendall and a jury was told on its 11th day that Fawcett had first been treated as a source by the police. He was later interviewed as a suspect.

When Fitzgerald interviewed him he denied that he had hit Manning or that he had picked her up from Manchester St.

The officer said: "You told us you were there but you didn't hit her."

"The Mob can kill me any time," Fawcett replied.

He said one night he had spoken to Manning's "boyfriend or husband" about money that was owed for working on the street.

Fawcett told him: "We run the street and people are paying us money, homage."

Later that night, another gang member told him to stay in Manchester St, to watch the sex workers and to see who was getting all the jobs. Otherwise they would sell drugs to them and try to get them in debt. There was always a way to get money off them.

The gang member told him: "We are unstoppable, untouchable, and this is our town."

The gang member walked up the street and stopped at a "Red Cross van" – probably a Salvation Army caravan – and got them soup, doughnuts, sandwiches, and pies.

Fawcett said: "I used to feel guilty [because] they were were there for the homeless.

"[The gang member] said, 'if they look at you just punch them in the face'."

They had a feed.

Later in the interview, Fawcett said a gang member had wanted Manning "hit" because she owed money.

The hit had been done by the time he got to the gang pad, he said.

A woman told him a couple of days later that she had stabbed Manning and kept going until she stopped screaming. Other weapons used in the attack had been a "pole-hook" and a metal bar, Fawcett said.

His role had been to help clean up. He had seen Manning's body lying on the ground, he said.

He described her injuries as "holes and blood" and she had a smashed in face.

She was lying on a tarpaulin when he saw her, not moving. Her body was then wrapped up and put in the back of a car, he said.

He was told to be a diversion in another vehicle in case the police approached while the body was being dumped. If necessary he was to ram the police vehicle, he said.

Afterwards, he smoked some P "to try to forget everything".

He was telling a different story in this interview – he had earlier described seeing a "bloodbath" – because he had earlier lied about seeing the attack because he had thought he would be safer from the Mob in jail, he said.

The trial is continuing.


Fairfax Media