The jury in a murder trial where a man is accused of shooting an acquaintance while the pair were sat in a car in a suburban Whangarei street has retired overnight.

Michael John Paewhenua, 27, is facing trial charged with the murder of Moses Noor Mahanga on the night of October 4 last year on William Jones Dr, Otangarei.

Paewhenua pleaded not guilty to the charge and a jury trial started on November 27.

The jury in the High Court at Whangarei was sent to consider its verdict early yesterday afternoon and after failing to reach a verdict by the end of business was sent home for the night. It will resume its deliberations at 9am today.


Closing addresses by the Crown and defence teams were delivered to the jury on Wednesday before Justice Rebecca Edwards summed up the case yesterday.

In her summing up, Justice Edwards told the jury not to be distracted by red herring in that they should not think about what other evidence they did not test that may have been produced during trial.

She said the defence accepted most of the core elements of the murder charge except that Paewhenua shot dead Mr Mahanga.

If at the end of an impartial and careful consideration of the evidence the jury was left with a reasonable doubt as to the guilty of Paewhenua, she said they must find him not guilty.

Justice Edwards explained what constituted evidence during the trial the jury must consider in their deliberation.

She said the jury should make no inference of guilt against Paewhenua on the basis he refused to make a statement to police as was his right.

The Crown case was Paewhenua's guilt could be established from the different strands of evidence.

They included that the accused and Mr Mahanga knew each other and were in contact before his murder, Paewhenua was agitated with his former partner and threatened to shoot people he accused her of sleeping with, and items found in a car in which his friend was found dead.


Other evidence the Crown relied upon was a witness saw someone who wore a black hoodie and a grey trackpants running away from the scene of the shooting.

Paewhenua was seen wearing those clothes earlier that day.

Also relied upon was confirmation a car Paewhenua drove that night crossed the northern toll gateway at 1.46am the next day that gave him enough time to leave Whangarei.

Crown prosecutor Bernadette O'Connor said Paewhenua's evidence in court did not stack up with other evidence presented during the trial.

Defence lawyer Arthur Fairley argued the jury could not draw a logical conclusion based on the Crown's circumstantial case.

It did not make sense that Paewhenua would kill his friend over nothing, he said.

Mr Fairley told the jury during his closing address there was no dispute Paewhenua was in a car with Mr Mahanga on the day of the murder but not when the shooting occurred.