A man has been found guilty of murdering his friend in a car in Whangarei.

After about eight hours of deliberations, a jury in the High Court at Whangarei today returned a guilty verdict against Michael John Paewhenua.

He murdered his friend Moses Noor Mahanga in a car on the night of October 4 last year on William Jones Dr near the entrance to Fishbone Park in Otangarei.

After a nine-day trial, the jury of six men and six women was sent to consider its verdict about 11.45am yesterday. They failed to reach a verdict by the end of business and were sent home for the night.


They resumed deliberations at 9am today and returned with the verdict about 11.35am.

The scene of the shooting in Otangarei, Whangarei last year. Photo/File
The scene of the shooting in Otangarei, Whangarei last year. Photo/File

A forensic scientist, Gerhard Wevers, testified last week that Mahanga, 25, was shot at close range, probably from just 300mm away.

Forensic pathologist Dr Thambarajah Balachandra said the cause of death was the gunshot wound, which caused extensive fractures and a severe laceration to Mahanga's skull.

He said death would have been instant.

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.


The Crown said Paewhenua fired a single shot from the front passenger's seat of the Mitsibushi Lancer to the left of Mahanga's head.

Police found Paewhenua's cellphone and a knife and uplifted his fingerprint and DNA from inside the car.

A date has yet to be set for Paewhenua's sentencing next year.