'Bloodbath' death described

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2014
Ngatai
Ngatai "Mellory" Manning.

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Ngatai "Mellory" Manning was tracked down and murdered by the Mongrel Mob because she owed the gang drug money, a High Court trial has heard.

Mauha Huatahi Fawcett, 26, is defending himself in the High Court in Christchurch, where he faces a charge of murdering Manning, 27, on or about December 18, 2008. Her partly naked body was found in the Avon River on December 19, 2008.

Manning's mother was in court for the start of the six-week trial yesterday, but left after harrowing versions of her daughter's "bloodbath" killing were heard.

The Crown case hinges on Fawcett's confessions to police, which it says shows he was guilty either as joint-principal or as party to the murder. Fawcett's defence is that he made a "false admission" under police pressure.

Opening for the Crown, prosecutor Pip Currie told the jury Manning was strangled, raped, stabbed and bashed at the Aotearoa Mongrel Mob's "pad" in Galbraith Ave, Avonside.

Several people, including Fawcett, were involved in the killing and any of her wounds could have been fatal, Currie said.

Manning had two clients on the night of December 18 - neither of whom were suspects - and was last seen by members of the public on the corner on Manchester and Peterborough streets, her usual spot, about 10.40pm.

Known as "Muckdog" or "Little Muckdog", Fawcett was a prospect for the Christchurch-based Mongrel Mob chapter, which wanted to "take over" Manchester St and tax the prostitutes $20 from each of their jobs.

Prospects, also known as "soldiers", were expected to do various tasks for the gang, which could include making money or putting their hand up to crimes to prevent a patched gang member from being arrested, a police witness told the court.

Fawcett's job was to watch over the street workers on Manchester St. Senior gang members had told him being patched gave you "licence to kill", Currie said. Prostitutes could be taxed using standover tactics, and failure to pay would result in a beating - usually by a gang prospect or associate rather than by a patched member, Detective Kelvin Holden told the court.

Fawcett, who has a bulldog tattoo on his right cheek, left Christchurch soon after Manning's murder.

He gave conflicting accounts when interviewed by police between 2009 and 2012. In one, Fawcett told police Manning's murder was a "planned hit" by the Mongrel Mob and he took part in the attack and disposal of her body, but did not pick her up.

Fawcett told police that he went to Galbraith Avenue, where a Mongrel Mob member repeatedly hit Manning with a pole. When the pole was handed to him, Fawcett "just shut his eyes and hit her".

Fawcett also told police he joined others doing "sieg heil" salutes and barking like dogs while Manning was assaulted, Currie said.

In another version, Fawcett spoke of a mobster telling him about Manning "owing money for drugs".

Another mobster had told him that all the working girls had to pay them "rent". Manning was identified while standing on Manchester St as the "girl who owed money". When confronted by an associate, "she said she didn't have the money but would try and get it", Currie said.

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Fawcett also spoke of various other weapons being used in the assault.

"He [Fawcett] said that it was a bloodbath," Currie said. Later, Fawcett backtracked on his confessions.

"He said he was supposed to do the hit so that he could get patched up, but he couldn't follow through," Currie said.

Instead, he told police that he was only the look-out while the killing took place and that he had "put himself in it" because he thought it would be easier to stay in jail away from the rest of the gang, Currie said.

When he was arrested in March 2012, Fawcett told police he knew nothing about Manning's death and played no part in it, she said.

Manning was on the methadone programme and the autopsy found methadone and small amounts of cannabis in her body, Currie said.

The Crown will call more than 100 witnesses.

- The Press

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