11 Feb 2014

Witnesses heard scream then splash

10:18 pm on 11 February 2014

Witnesses in the murder trial of Mahua Fawcett have described hearing a loud scream and a splash near where prostitute Mellory Manning was dumped in the Avon River.

Mauha Fawcett, 26, is charged with the murder of the 27-year-old, whose given name was Ngatai, as part of his initiation to the Mongrel Mob gang.

Mauha Huatahi Fawcett on trial for murdering Mellory Manning, in the Christchurch High Court.

Mauha Huatahi Fawcett on trial for murdering Mellory Manning, in the Christchurch High Court. Photo: FAIRFAX / Pool

The Crown told the Christchurch High Court trial that on the night of 18 December 2008, Fawcett knocked Ms Manning unconscious and took her to a gang property in the suburb of Avonside. There she was attacked by several men and killed before being dumped in the Avon River, it said.

A witness, who has name suppression, told the court on Tuesday he was about 50 metres away from the Mongrel Mob house when he heard a "pretty horrible, blood-curdling, female-being-attacked scream" between 10pm and midnight.

Another witness said she heard a splash in the Avon River just after 11pm.

Earlier, the jury was told Ms Manning had not planned to work the night she was killed.

In a statement read to the court on Tuesday, Ms Manning's former boyfriend said the pair had argued at their house that night about whether she would work after receiving an offer from a client.

Ms Manning eventually told him she was not going out to work, so he took the dog for a walk, he said. However, she was gone when he got home. He did not look for her because he did not believe that she was on the street.

Also on Tuesday, the court was told the Mongrel Mob was trying to control the area where Ms Manning was working at the time she was killed.

A prostitute who worked near Ms Manning in Manchester Street told the jury the Mongrel Mob had begun charging prostitutes $20 for every job they did as a form of tax. The witness, who has name suppression, said the gang members told them they owned the streets, and they had to pay.

Another witness said Ms Manning usually tried to avoid the Mongrel Mob and did not pay them. The court was told on Monday she was beaten by gang members because she owed them money.

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

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