Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Manning trial: Jurors cautioned on bias

Mellory Manning was raped, bashed and stabbed to death in December 2008 in Christchurch.
Mellory Manning was raped, bashed and stabbed to death in December 2008 in Christchurch.

The jury in the Mellory Manning murder trial have been told not to read anything into the fact her accused killer has represented himself in court.

Justice David Gendall spent more than two hours summing up the evidence for the jury of six men and six women yesterday.

They retired to begin considering their verdict at 12.30pm and were sent home for the night at 5pm. They will resume at 9.30am today.

Mongrel Mob prospect Mauha Huataki Fawcett denies murdering Ms Manning in 2008.

Fawcett, 26, has been conducting his own defence with the assistance of an amicus curiae (friend of the court), lawyer Craig Ruane, throughout the four-week trial at the High Court in Christchurch.

He claims police pressured and "coached" him into falsely confessing he was present when the 27-year-old was raped, bashed, and stabbed on December 18, 2008 at a Galbraith Ave gang pad over an alleged debt.

The Crown says Fawcett - then aged 21 and known within gang circles as "Muck Dog" - either took part in the killing or was there as a party to Ms Manning's brutal murder.

Her partly naked body was discovered floating in the Avon River by a kayaker the day after she was killed.

In his summing-up, Justice Gendall told the jury: "You are the sole judges of the facts."

He said they must set aside any feelings of sympathy and prejudice and ensure their decision is not swayed by emotion. The onus of proof, whether the charge was proved beyond reasonable doubt, lay with the Crown, he said.

Commenting on Fawcett's unusual decision to represent himself on such a serious charge, Justice Gendall said that, like any defendant, he had an "absolute right" to do so.

"You are not to read anything in that decision or to think anything ill of that."

Justice Gendall also directed the jury on the alternative possible verdict of manslaughter.

The Crown accepts that Fawcett was not necessarily the main killer, but was at least party to the murder, and therefore guilty of murder.

The Crown says it is a clear case of murder, and not manslaughter.

But the judge said if the jurors found Fawcett not guilty of murder as a party, then they should go on to consider whether he was guilty of manslaughter as a party.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 21 Oct 2014 22:11:37 Processing Time: 536ms