Jury retires in Manning murder trial

The jury has started its deliberations in the Ngatai 'Mellory' Manning murder trial.

Justice David Gendall spent more than two hours summing up the evidence for the jury of six men and six women today.

They retired to begin considering their verdict at 12.30pm.

Mongrel Mob prospect Mauha Huataki Fawcett, 26, denies murdering Miss Manning, 27, in 2008.

He has been conducting his own defence with assistance of an amicus curiae, lawyer Craig Ruane, throughout the four-week trial at the High Court in Christchurch.

Fawcett claims police pressured and "coached" him into making false confessions that he was present when Miss Manning was raped, bashed, and stabbed on December 18, 2008 at a Galbraith Ave gang pad in Christchurch over an alleged debt.

The Crown says Fawcett - then aged 21 and known within gang circles as 'Muck Dog' - either took part in the killing, or was there as a party to her brutal murder.

Miss Manning's partially naked body was discovered floating in the Avon River by a kayaker the day after she was killed.

Justice Gendall today urged the jury to set aside any feelings of sympathy and prejudice and ensure their decision is not swayed by emotion.

The onus of proof, whether the charge is proved beyond reasonable doubt, lies with the Crown, he said.

Commenting on Fawcett's unusual decision to represent himself on such a serious charge, Justice Gendall said like any defendant, he has an "absolute right" to do so.

"You are not to read anything in that decision or to think anything ill of that."

The judge also directed the jury on the alternate possible verdict of manslaughter.

The Crown accepts that Fawcett was not necessarily the main killer, but was at least party to the murder, and therefore guilty of murder.

It is a clear case of murder, and not manslaughter, in an organised gang hit, the Crown contends.

But Justice Gendall said if the jury finds Fawcett not guilty of murder as a party, then they should go on to consider whether he is guilty of manslaughter.

Fawcett simply contends he wasn't at the gang pad that night.

He says he had nothing to do with the death, or in disposing of the body, and that he had lied throughout his police interviews.

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