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Driver 'squared up' man, jury told

Last updated 13:45 11/03/2014

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A late-night, roadside disagreement led to a man being "squared up" by an angered motorist and driven over, a court has heard.

Auckland man Sitanilei Vailahi Haufano, 26, is accused of the murder of Uilisuni Ofa, 30, early on November 14, 2012.

Ofa died after being hit by a car in Great North Rd, not far from his home in Waterview.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the impact caused the victim to fall backwards and hit his head on the road, causing a massive skull fracture.

It is alleged Haufano then drove over Ofa as he lay there.

The incident arose from a chance encounter in Oakley Ave, just round the corner from where Ofa died.

After a night of drinking, his car - being driven by a friend - had pulled over and he was arguing with his wife in the street.

Shortly afterwards Haufano stopped across the road, metres away, to allow his intoxicated friend to vomit.

Witnesses are expected to tell the court that Haufano's laughter attracted the attention of Ofa, who punched him while the 26-year-old known as Stan sat in the driver's seat of his Subaru.

The scuffle caused Haufano's friend to run away towards Great North Rd and Ofa followed him.

Dickey said the accused pursued in his car and Ofa turned around to face him.

"He crossed the centre-line and hit him essentially square-on," the prosecutor said.

"Then he ran entirely over Mr Ofa. There is no suggestion of braking or stopping. There were scuff marks to the body of the victim and on the road."

Haufano was interviewed by police later that day when he admitted accelerating but denied crossing the centre-line or driving straight at Ofa.

He told police he had been panicking and looking behind him as he drove, then when he saw the victim he "just floored it" out of shock.

"That explanation seems unlikely," Dickey said.

An ambulance arrived at the scene at 1.20am to find Ofa in a pool of his own blood being tended to by his friend and wife.

Despite resuscitation efforts, he was pronounced dead less then 15 minutes later.

Also on trial in the High Court in Auckland are Quintellya Jeanette Eileen George and Betty Diploma Faaoa, who are each charged with acting as an accessory to murder.

The Crown told the court the pair made arrangements for Haufano to evade police as soon as they found out what had happened.

It is alleged Faaoa organised a meeting for Haufano and his associates to "get their story straight" and she told him to destroy his cellphone SIM card.

George is said to have given him advice on avoiding police and advised him to remove the damaged bumper from his car.

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Haufano's lawyer, John Kovacevich, asked the jury to carefully consider his client's intentions and the amount of time it took for the incident to unfold.

The trial, in front of a jury of seven men and five women, is expected to last up to four weeks.

- Stuff

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