8 Feb 2017

Man accused of murder 'was my rock' - victim's daughter

6:07 pm on 8 February 2017

A woman says the man accused of murdering her father on a remote hilltop north of Auckland was "her rock".

Lance Murphy

Murder victim Lance Murphy Photo: NZ Police

Michael Waipouri denies charges of kidnapping and murdering Lance Murphy by beating him to death with a baseball bat and a tree branch in November 2015.

His co-accused, Steve Gunbie, is charged with kidnapping and being an accessory by helping to get rid of the body.

Mr Murphy's daughter, Chralle Murphy, told the High Court in Auckland today that, shortly before her father disappeared, he fell out with his long-time friend, Michael Waipouri, whose nickname was Cruise.

She told the court her sister, Christy Thompson, called her about it.

"Christy had rung me and said that, that Dad was freaking out because Cruise and him had had an argument and he was scared because Cruise had threatened to kill him."

Ms Murphy said despite the threat, Mr Waipouri's partner assured them nothing would happen.

Christy Thompson told Mr Waipouri's lawyer, John Munro, of her close-knit family and their ties with Mr Waipouri, who was her godfather.

She went to Mr Waipouri for help. "He was my rock," she told the court.

She said she got a strange phone call from Mr Waipouri two days after her father went missing.

"He was talking about stolen diamonds. He was very agitated and jumping from one thing to another thing. He was talking about Māori land wars [The New Zealand Wars]."

According to the Crown case, Mr Waipouri had by this time lured Mr Murphy to a property north of Warkworth, handcuffed him, put a hood over his head and taken him to a hilltop property near Puhoi where he repeatedly hit him in the head with a baseball bat and a tree branch.

His body was not found for a further three weeks.

Ms Thompson had no idea what had happened to her father. She said she drove to Mr Waipouri's house to drop off some of his mail that was sent to her father's home.

"Michael was - he was calm. He just gave me a hug and I gave him the mail. Sometimes he was a man of few words and that day he was so I didn't think too much about it, to be honest."

She said Mr Waipouri made no mention of her father.

She told Mr Munro her father's life was going off the rails shortly before he disappeared.

Mr Munro asked: "You know he was using, perhaps using a bit of meth, around this time?"

Ms Thompson responded: "I'd never seen it but I definitely had some concerns about it."

She said he had fallen out with other friends recently and there had been an argument in the family over a will.