10 Feb 2017

Murder trial witness given immunity from prosecution

1:22 pm on 10 February 2017

A witness in an Auckland murder trial says he didn't know who the good guy was after he found a man hog-tied to a tree and fighting for his life shortly after his friend had visited his property.

Lance Murphy

Lance Murphy Photo: NZ Police

The witness, who has name suppression, has been granted immunity from prosecution and is giving evidence at the High Court in Auckland.

His friend Steve Gunbie is on trial for kidnapping Lance Murphy and helping to get rid of Mr Murphy's body.

Another man, Michael Waipouri, is on trial for kidnapping and murder.

Yesterday the witness told the court he was at home with his partner and their friends on a Sunday morning in November, 2015.

He told Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes that he and others were high and he had personally taken methamphetamine, heroin and a drug known as GBL.

Sometime in the morning, his friend Steve Gunbie pulled up with a man who he did not know. The Crown says that man was Michael Waipouri.

"I think he said his mate had taken 30mls of G[BL] or something and he was freaking out."

The witness said Mr Gunbie and his friend headed further up the driveway to a hilltop and were gone for about 20 minutes.

When they came back, Mr Gunbie jumped out of the car and ran up on the deck.

"He told me not to let anyone go up the hill and then jumped back in the car and they shot off."

But the witness said as soon as Mr Gunbie and his friend left the property, he and his friend Marty headed straight up the hill.

"There appeared to be a man that was hog-tied to a tree ... I didn't walk right over."

He said he stayed by the car while Marty went for a closer look.

"He was making gurgling noises so I presume he was fighting to live."

He said he went and got Mr Gunbie at his home near Warkworth and brought him back. Mr Gunbie spent the day at his property but the body was still there when he left.

It took a third visit from Mr Gunbie to get rid of the body.

The witness said he didn't want anything to do with the body but Mr Gunbie told him that if he didn't help, the body would stay on his propery.

"That's when I seen the guy wasn't tied to the tree anymore, he was further up the property, down a ditch, just over the fenceline, on to the neighbour's property."

The witness said Mr Gunbie set about trying to pull the body back up on to the flat.

"Steve was trying to wrap some electrical cords around the guy's leg, attatch it to the car and pull him out of the ditch where he was and the electrical cords kept breaking.

"So he cut all of the seat belts out of the white Pajero, tied them into a length of rope or whatever you want to call it. He tied that around the guy's leg, reversed the car and pulled him out of the ditch and up on to the flat."

He said he and Mr Gunbie then drove about 40 minutes before dumping the body in a ditch by the side of the road.

I should have called the ambulance - witness

The witness initially told police he didn't know anything about the case but he had a change of heart the following day.

"Because when I was leaving the police station that night, the police said: 'The children just wanted their father back and that they really needed a body.' And I just wanted to come clean for the family and what-have-you and give the kids their father back."

He led police to the body, dumped in a ditch on a rural road north of Auckland.

Under cross examination from Mr Gunbie's lawyer Adam Couchman, he said he should've come clean a lot earlier.

"But at the time I didn't know who was the good guy and who was the bad guy, I was off my friggin' head. They come with the guy, so I wanted them to leave with the guy but you're quite right, I should have rung the ambulance right there and then."

The witness will continue to be cross examined today.

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