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Crown: murder accused cried, 'I hope he's dead!'

TOKOROA - The man accused of killing Mangakino constable Murray Stretch yelled "I hope he's dead!" as two men tried to wrestle him after the vicious attack, the Tokoroa District Court heard yesterday.

Shaven-headed Carlos Namana, aged 20, appeared for a depositions hearing handcuffed and flanked by two plainclothes police officers.

The Crown alleged he repeatedly stomped on Constable Stretch's head when the officer tried to arrest him for burgling a Mangakino dairy on the night of May 26.

Crown prosecutor John McDonald said Namana then jumped into a police wagon and apparently tried to run over Constable Stretch when Mangakino Hotel patrons came to the policeman's aid.

"But his backing skills were not the best and he backed into a tree."

Mr McDonald said Namana yelled "I hope he's dead!" as he wrestled with hotel patrons, Constable Stretch died of head injuries in the grounds of the old Mangakino Hospital before medical help could arrive.

Mr McDonald said Namana and Constable Stretch knew each other, and it appeared there was "bad blood" between them.

Defence lawyer Louis Bidois agreed there was a case to be answered, and Namana will appear in the High Court at Rotorua on October 20 for a hearing date to be set for the murder and burglary charges. He will also appear in the Rotorua District Court on December 6 charged with driving while disqualified.

The Crown presented justices of the peace Mike Worth and Margaret Denton with 213 pages of affidavits from hotel patrons who unsuccessfully tried to tackle Namana, and friends who saw him later that night and the next day.

Mangakino resident Michael Wiringi called the police, who sent Constable Stretch to investigate the burglary at Geraldine's Cafe.

Mr Wiringi said he saw Constable Stretch approach Namana and look through his bag, which was filled with stolen potato chips and chewing gum.

"The guy turned around and bolted towards the hospital driveway," said Mr Wiringi. "The constable tackled him ... the guy started punching the constable. The constable reached behind him and grabbed what looked like a baton and kept banging him on the head with it."

But then Namana got the upper hand, and witnesses from the hotel who heard the fight said they saw him "pummelling" Constable Stretch.

Half a dozen people tried to grab Namana when he got in the police wagon, but he fought them off and ran away after picking up the chips and chewing gum.

A number of witnesses said Namana had been drinking at the hotel and at a friend's house earlier, but he did not appear very drunk.

Judianne Williams testified that Namana turned up at her house after 10 pm looking for her boyfriend, Reuben Major.

"I saw specks of blood on his shirt and blood on Carlos' forehead," she said. "It looked as if the rain was dripping on him. His knuckles were bloody and grazed."

She said Namana told her he had a fight with Constable Stretch and "smashed his head into a pole."

Major came home with his friend Jarred Kardas Kaea, who gave Namana a ride home.

The next day Namana's best friend, Desmond Stainton, found him hiding under a truck and asked him to hand himself in.

Major and Kaea are charged with helping Namana avoid arrest.

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