Accused says he lied to police about being at gang pad

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014
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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A Mongrel Mob prospect almost broke down as he told jurors he had fed police "straight out lies" about Mellory Manning's death.

However, the Crown says Mauha Huatahi Fawcett had no reason to lie about his involvement.

Closing addresses were heard yesterday in the High Court in Christchurch, where Fawcett is defending a charge of murdering the 27-year-old sex worker on the night of December 18, 2008.

A verdict is not expected until at least Monday, when the judge will sum up. Crown prosecutor Philip Shamy said Manning's murder was "a planned hit" by the Mongrel Mob and Fawcett helped carry it out.

A patched mobster had called a meeting earlier that night. Once she was taken to the gang's pad in Galbraith Ave, Avonside, it was "murder without hesitation", Shamy said.

"They're a group. It's one in, all in. That's why they are standing there barking and Sieg Heiling."

Fawcett later told police he was supposed to carry out the hit on Manning, but could not follow through. He "closed his eyes and hit" Manning with a pole under instruction from a mobster after others had bashed her.

An ex-Mob member also testified that Fawcett told him he stabbed Manning and "that's it".

Shamy suggested Fawcett admitted his involvement to police because it "haunted him".

Fawcett, now 26, struggled to stay composed as he told jurors how he "stupidly implicated myself into this serious crime".

Because his story did not add up, police kept re-interviewing him to get "more glue to make it stick".

"I've talked about how I took part in hurting Miss Manning, well I've lied to the police. I was never at the gang pad. I didn't take part in this. It's just all a made-up theory."

Fawcett said he had nothing to gain from protecting the Mongrel Mob. "I'm wanted from (by) the Mongrel Mob. I will never protect Male B,"' Fawcett said.

Assisting counsel, barrister Craig Ruane, urged the jury to test Fawcett's confessions against "objective" evidence.

"Without them, the foundations are gone," Ruane said.

There was no DNA or cellphone evidence showing Fawcett was involved. The weapons Fawcett described were never found.

He "happily" named mobsters, but none of them were "male B", suggesting he was not there.

To find Fawcett guilty of murder, the jury must be satisfied that he knew the perpetrators wanted Manning dead, or at least wanted to inflict potentially fatal injuries, and helped them do it.

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But a "hit" could mean only serious violence, rather than a killing.

"There must be some nagging doubts here," Ruane said.

"Fawcett is not a criminal mastermind. He hasn't organised this. At most, he is a rather dim prospect, caught up in something way beyond his comprehension."

Even if Fawcett did stab or hit Manning, forensic evidence showed she may have already been dead, Ruane said.

"If he has been involved at all, he has been involved right on the periphery. Don't convict him of murder because he's the only one in the dock."

Shamy said others may face charges after Fawcett was "dealt with on this charge" and potentially became a witness for the Crown.

- The Press

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