11 Feb 2014

Attack 'part of gang initiation'

6:04 am on 11 February 2014

The man accused of murdering Christchurch woman Mellory Manning barked like a dog and gave Nazi salutes as he attacked her during an initiation to the Mongrel Mob gang, a jury has been told.

Mauha Fawcett, 26, is charged with the murder of the 27-year-old, whose given name was Ngatai. She had been working as a prostitute and her beaten and stabbed body was found in the Avon River in 2008.

Mauha Fawcett in Christchurch High Court on Monday.

Mauha Fawcett in Christchurch High Court on Monday. Photo: FAIRFAX / Pool

The accused was arrested in Auckland in March 2012 and initially charged with kidnapping and murder. The kidnapping charge has been dropped.

Crown lawyer Pip Currie told the High Court in Christchurch on Monday that Mauha Fawcett was one of a group of Mongrel Mob members who took Ms Manning back to a property in the suburb of Avonside and brutally attacked her.

Ms Currie said when the accused was interviewed by police in 2009 he said he hit Ms Manning with a metal pole so he could become a patched member of the gang. However, he said others landed the blows that killed her.

"He said he ... was told to stab Mellory, but that he didn't and that others did it. He said he was there and he went 'sieg heil' and started barking like the other mobsters were doing during the assault."

Ms Currie told the court Mr Fawcett backtracked after being arrested in 2012, saying he wasn't involved and lied to police so he could be put in prison to get away from gang members.

Mauha Fawcett has chosen to represent himself, but will have lawyer Craig Ruane there to assist the court.

Mr Fawcett told the jury on Monday he gave false confessions about attacking Mellory Manning following intense pressure from police. He denied murdering her and said he wouldn't be guilty of manslaughter or any other charge.

A police gang liaison officer, Detective Kelvin Holden, told the court violence is a huge part of gang culture and members will attack each other, or anyone who crosses them, in a heartbeat.

The trial before a jury of six women and six men is expected to take six weeks and more than 100 witness will be called.