Mellory Manning trial: 'They were looking for her'

By Cullen Smith of The Star

Mellory Manning. Photo / supplied
Mellory Manning. Photo / supplied

A man who hired sex worker Mellory Manning on the night she was killed was unable to reach her by text later that night and the following two days, the High Court at Christchurch has been told.

The man, whose identity is suppressed, told the court he met Ms Manning for the first time on December 18, 2008, and had sex with her in his car before dropping her back at her usual spot on the corner of Manchester St and Peterborough St about 10.30pm.

Mongrel Mob gang prospect Mauha Huataki Fawcett, 26, has denied murdering Ms Manning, claiming police pressured him into making false confessions that he was present when she was killed over an unpaid debt.

The Crown alleges Ms Manning, 27, was raped, bashed with weapons and stabbed at a Mongrel Mob gang pad before her body was dumped in the Avon River.

In evidence read to the court today, the man said that after they had sex, Ms Manning offered her cellphone number and said she'd like to meet up with him for a coffee.

"I had no intention of using her or meeting her again, but I said yes because I didn't want to offend her."

Ms Manning handed him a piece of paper with her telephone number on it.

"When she gave me the piece of paper she said she'd like to meet up again for a coffee sometime. I didn't reply," he said.

However, the man said he texted her as he was driving home, saying, 'that was nice. Have a good night'.

She replied, saying, 'cool, text me any time'.

The man said he texted her again about 10.43pm but received no reply.

At work the following morning, he heard that a woman's body had been found in the Avon River.

The man said he texted Ms Manning again that night and again on Saturday without reply.

"I had no idea it was Mellory in the river."

On December 21, a detective showed him a photograph which he identified as the woman he'd engaged for sex.

"I only met Mellory that night. I think she introduced herself as Mel."

He said he gave the piece of paper that Ms Manning had given him to police.

Earlier, the court heard that Fawcett and a patched Mongrel Mob member had been looking for Ms Manning on the night she was killed.

A woman, whose name is suppressed, said Fawcett, who she knew by his gang nickname, "Muck Dog", told her they were looking for a 'chick called Mel' while the three were sharing cannabis in a red Mazda car driver by Fawcett about 10.30pm.

"They were looking for her. They said she owed money," she said.

The woman said she didn't know Ms Manning.

When she got out of the car, Fawcett and the mob member drove away

She said they were going to look up the street to see if Ms Manning was working.

An ESR scientist told the court toxicology tests showed that Ms Manning had methadone, cannabis, morphine, traces of an anti-anxiety drug and a sleeping aid drug in her system at the time of her death.

No alcohol was detected.

Evidence yesterday, from Ms Manning's cellphone records on the night she was killed, traced her movements from her usual working spot at on the corner of Manchester St and Peterborough St to Galbraith Ave in Avonside, where the Crown alleges she was murdered at a Mongrel Mob gang pad.

The trial continues.

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