A man has gone on trial in the High Court in Wellington for killing a Palmerston North drug dealer, whose body has never been found.
Stephen Hudson, 39, is charged with murdering Nicholas Pike in March 2002 near the Desert Road in the central North Island.
The last sighting of Mr Pike was in Mount Maunganui on 15 March 2002. He has never been heard from since.
In his opening address on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said Mr Pike met the accused through their drug-dealing activities in 2001.
Mr Vanderkolk said that by March 2002 things had changed, as Mr Hudson believed Mr Pike was informing on him to police.
The Crown alleges that Mr Hudson drove Mr Pike down a road off the Desert Road and killed him over a drug debt.
But Mr Hudson says he left Mr Pike there to work on a cannabis plot.
The court was told Mr Pike had previously gone missing in 2000.
Crown witness Paul Long told the court Mr Pike appeared to be Mr Hudson's lackey and followed his orders.
In cross-examination, he said Mr Pike told him he left Palmerston North for several months in 2000, as he owed a lot of drug money to the Nomads gang and was afraid of them.