Mellory Manning's injuries described

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 16:55 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 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. 

Fawcett, 26, is defending a charge of murdering Manning on or about December 18, 2008.

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. 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 "pissed off with me . . . for messing him around".

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

The Mob member told police Manning had refused to give Fawcett and another mobster money, so the mobster "stuck Muk onto her" and "Muk had smashed her but went too far". 

Fawcett, whose nickname is Muk, said the Mob member was lying.

"I can't own that one. 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 had heard earlier that Fawcett claimed he was high on methamphetamine when he confessed to playing a role in her killing.

VICTIM'S INJURIES DESCRIBED TO COURT (GRAPHIC CONTENT)

Horrific injuries sustained by Manning were described to a high court trial this morning. 

Forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage said an autopsy of Manning's 45kg body showed the Christchurch sex worker died from "an extremely sustained and determined assault".

Her injuries included:

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- 10 separate blunt force injuries of "lethal severity" to the head. The largest of these was a 6cm by 4cm hole in her forehead, which was likely caused by repeated blows by something like a long pipe or bar, and swung "very vigorously" making "enormous impact" when it hit the head.  

- Bruises to her chin and throat, typical of manual strangulation.

- Stab wounds, including three to her upper left breast, which went right through the lung to her back. The blade would have been about 15 to 17 centimetres long and about 2 cms wide. These "represented a very serious threat to life", Sage said. 

- Bruises on her hands, seven on her left hand and knuckles and two on her right hand. 

- Twenty-two bruises to her lower limbs, indicating blows from a narrow, "pole-like" weapon. 

- Scratches to her back, indicating contact with thorny material.

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, or at least no longer breathing, when her body entered the Avon River. 

"It wasn't just one blow and let's see what happens. It was mulitple blows, multiple stab wounds and manual strangulation as well," he said.

"There was no evidence that she drowned."

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. 

CAR USED TO TRANSPORT BODY EXAMINED

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, and, Fawcett had earlier told police, 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.

* An earlier version of this story said the DNA found was from "male B". This was not correct.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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