Police made 'fake promises'

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 17:18 25/02/2014
Ngatai
Ngatai "Mellory" Manning.

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Murder-accused Mauha Huatahi Fawcett says pressure, threats, and promises made him lie to the police about the death of Christchurch sex worker Mellory Manning at the hands of the Mongrel Mob.

Fawcett, 26, denies killing Manning on or about December 18, 2008. The Crown says Manning was taken to a Mongrel Mob gang pad in Avonside where she was beaten, strangled, and stabbed over money she owed, either for drugs or for a Mob "tax" on sex workers.

Fawcett made the comments about lying at the end of the evidence of a police officer who interviewed him, Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald. The court had watched a series of video interviews with Fawcett.

He put to the officer that he had known he was lying during the interviews.

He said: "If I was telling the truth all those mobsters would have been arrested by now."

Fitzgerald replied: "No, that's not the way it works."

There had been times during the interviews when Fawcett had displayed "different loyalties", Fitzgerald said.

Fawcett told the court: "I am sitting here because I took this whole operation for a ride through the pressure you put on me, and for the promises you offered me - the cash reward, the tattoo removal, safety from the Mongrel Mob. You kept pressuring me until I put myself in it, but it doesn't add up."

The officer replied: "You are entitled to your opinion but the facts of the case speak for themselves."

Fawcett replied that the facts proved that he had not been present and did not hurt Manning.

He said the police had offered him "fake promises" - "I was compelled into this whole investigation".

The police had threatened him. They said they could protect him, and cared about his safety because people wanted to kill him.

"All these rewards started popping up," Fawcett said.

He started telling stories because they used him as an informer.

"It wasn't me that hurt this lady. I didn't take any part in it."

Fitzgerald said: "It's a very easy statement to make, but the facts speak for themselves."

An undercover policeman told of meeting Fawcett after he had been charged with the murder. He spoke to Fawcett who said he had earlier told the police that he did it, but he had "just told them what they wanted to hear".

The officer said Fawcett had told him a gang member had asked another member to "sort her out" but he "went overboard".

Earlier today Fawcett told police of a gang member "whacking" sex worker Mellory Manning with a small axe.

The court has spent days watching the video recordings of the interviews, many of them punctuated by long silences, before Fawcett says a few sentences. In some of the interviews he gives different accounts of what he saw.

In the early interviews Fawcett was regarded by police as a source of information, but in the later ones he was seen as a suspect.

In his seventh interview with the police, played today, Fawcett tells of a gang member hitting Manning with "a small axe or similar".

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Manning was lying on the ground by then. Fawcett said others present at the beating were barking and shouting the gang's "Sieg heil" salute.

He told the interviewers of a discussion about him then being told to "take the rap".

He was told to clean out a car. By then, Manning's body had been taken to the Avon River and dumped there. She was found in the river on December 19, 2008.

The interview played today was carried out after police travelled to Auckland where they interviewed him on January 28, 2010.

During the interview, after another long pause, Fawcett told the officers: "I don't feel safe at the moment."

Fawcett said that after his release from prison he started helping the Mongrel Mob get money off the sex workers on Manchester Street. Some of the girls were all right with it, and some weren't. Some got a hiding.

"I also used to sell drugs to the prostitutes," he told the police.

Fawcett said he talked to Manning's boyfriend about a week before her death and told him to pay some money for her working on the street.

Fawcett said he was also told that Manning owed money for drugs.

The trial, before Justice David Gendall and a jury, is in its third week.

- The Press

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