Murder accused appears in court

By Imran Ali

Murder accused Viliami One Fungavaka during his first appearance.
Murder accused Viliami One Fungavaka during his first appearance.

A Northland plasterer accused of murdering a Kaitaia mother of two wants to tell the court his side of the story.

Viliami One Fungavaka, 45, of Kaitaia is facing one charge of murder and appeared in the Whangarei District Court yesterday.

He appeared calm and composed while defence lawyer Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki told the court his client would plead not guilty and did not want name suppression.

"There are no issues with name suppression because he wants to have his story told," the senior counsel told Judge Duncan Harvey.

Georgina Manuel, 28, was struck by a vehicle on Pukepoto Rd in Kaitaia on Tuesday and died in Whangarei Hospital at 5 o'clock the next morning.

She had been admitted to Kaitaia Hospital, then flown by rescue helicopter to Whangarei Hospital.

In court yesterday, Mr Barron-Afeaki said Fungavaka's defence was that he had no knowledge or intention of doing what police alleged he did in Kaitaia between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Outside court, he said Fungavaka would apply for bail at some stage, perhaps before his next court appearance.

Judge Harvey remanded him in custody for re-appearance in the High Court at Whangarei on September 12.

Fungavaka handed himself in to the Whangarei police just before midday on Wednesday.

Inquiries are continuing and police would like to speak to anyone who picked up any hitchhikers between Kaitaia and Kerikeri between 6am and noon on Wednesday.

A vehicle believed to have been involved in the incident was located on Grigg St, Kaitaia, and police are carrying out a forensic examination of the vehicle.

Police said they believe Ms Manuel was involved in an argument with a man near the intersection of Pukepoto Rd and Bonnett Rd about 10pm on Tuesday.

Her children were in the care of family.

Anyone with information can contact Kaitaia Police on 09 408 6500 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

- Northern Advocate

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