'This is going to come back on me'

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 17:24 26/02/2014
Ngatai
Ngatai "Mellory" Manning.
Mauha Huatahi Fawcett
John Kirk-Anderson
ACCUSED: Mauha Huatahi Fawcett appears in the Christchurch High Court. He denies murdering Ngatai "Mellory" Manning.

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Murder-accused Mauha Huatahi Fawcett told police on the day he was charged that patched Mongrel Mob members were trying to make him "take the rap" for Mellory Manning's killing.

Fawcett, 26, denies killing Christchurch sex worker 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 said in a March 2012 interview he had lied in previous interviews about having any involvement or knowledge of the 27-year-old sex worker's death.

At the time, Fawcett was living at a drug rehabilitation centre in Auckland.

In the interview with Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer, Fawcett said he had "probably confused the whole case" and "confused a lot of people in it too".

"I've been feeling, this is really going to come back on me," Fawcett said.

"I still [feel like] I messed it all up. I've been lying."

Fawcett said he had explained this to another officer, Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald, who seemed "p..... off with me ... for messing him around."

Archer told Fawcett that another patched mob member had told police that Fawcett was responsible for Manning's death.

The mob member told police Manning had refused to give Fawcett and another gang member money. The mob member "stuck Muk onto her" and "Muk had smashed her but went too far".

Fawcett, whose nickname is Muk, said the gang member had lied.

"I can't own that one," he said.

"I feel they are using me as an easy way out ... Trying to make me take the rap for it.

"They are trying to chuck the blame somewhere else," he said.

After a short break, Archer put direct questions to Fawcett about Manning's murder, to which he denied all knowledge of what occurred.

Archer then charged Fawcett with murder.

Fawcett told him he was concerned about his safety.

The court heard earlier that Fawcett claimed he was high on methamphetamine when he confessed to playing a role in killing Manning.

Evidence about a forensic examination of a black Subaru Legacy vehicle seized by police in December 2009 was also heard today.

It had been used by a woman associated with the Mongrel Mob in December 2008.

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Fawcett had earlier told police, it was used to dump Manning's body.

Carpet and the tray was missing from the boot of the car.

Forensic scientist Rosalyn Rough told the court that DNA from males BM and BN was recovered from an empty bottle and a cigarette butt found in the car*.

Plant material was found in the footwell and middle of the back seat.

Three small spots of blood were found in the roof lining, but were found to be unsuitable for DNA comparison.

Earlier, the horrific injuries sustained by Manning were described to the court.

Forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage gave evidence at the trial.

Sage said an autopsy of Manning's body - which weighed 45 kilograms - showed the Christchurch sex worker died from "an extremely sustained and determined assault".

Her injuries included 10 separate blunt force injuries to the head, which were of "lethal severity" and would have caused "significant blood loss".

She also had a broken nose and scalp fractures.  Bruises to her chin and throat were typical of manual strangulation.

In addition, she had three stab wounds to her chest, bruising on her hands and more than 20 bruises on her lower body.

Sage concluded Manning would have "succumbed very rapidly to her injuries", and would have likely died within a few minutes of the assault. She was almost certainly dead when her body entered the Avon River.

"There was no evidence that she drowned," he said.

Sage said many of the injuries could have caused death.

Sage said it was possible a single assailant caused the injuries, but he could not exclude the possibility more than one attacker was involved.

Justice David Gendall warned the jury before they were shown the autopsy photographs.  While they may be distressed by the "graphic" photos, Gendall reminded them to avoid prejudice or sympathy.

He also suppressed the photos in order to maintain Manning's dignity.

* The original version of this story said the DNA was from "male B". This was not correct.

- The Press

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