10 Feb 2017

Witness wishes she had called ambulance for murder victim

4:03 pm on 10 February 2017

A woman says her partner was angry after his friend dropped a man at their property who had been hit in the head with a baseball bat.

Michael Waipouri is charged with kidnapping and murdering the man, Lance Murphy. Steve Gunbie is charged with kidnapping and being an accessory.

The woman, who cannot be named, told the High Court in Auckland that she and her partner and friends had been doing drugs when her partner's friend, Steve Gunbie, pulled up at their rural property, north of Puhoi.

She said after a while Mr Gunbie came back down and told them the man had been hit in the head by someone wielding an aluminium baseball bat.

She said before leaving, Steve Gunbie told them not to let anyone go up to the hilltop behind their house before leaving the property.

The woman said she suggested to her partner that he and another friend take some water up to the man.

"I was - I wouldn't say hysterical about it - but I was very upset about it," she said.

She now wishes she had called an ambulance, the woman said.

Later when she told Mr Gunbie that the man could die, he answered: "Don't be stupid, I'm not a murderer".

"He sort of down-played the injuries - that he was just putting it on, pretending he was hurt but he wasn't hurt."

'There's no way Steve could've moved it by himself. I helped him'

Earlier the court heard from the woman's partner who has immunity from prosecution and name suppression.

He confirmed to the court that he helped move a dead body on his property.

The witness said Mr Gunbie and another man, who the Crown says is Mr Waipouri, visited the witness' home near Puhoi, north of Auckland, where Mr Murphy was murdered.

Days later the witness said he insisted Mr Gunbie remove the body from his property.

Under cross-examination, he confirmed that he helped Mr Gunbie put the body in the back of a car and dump it in a roadside ditch.

"It was a very big body. There's no way Steve could've moved it by himself. I helped him."

At times he raised his voice to Mr Gunbie's lawyer Adam Couchman. At one point he made a lewd comment about Mr Gunbie and Justice Hinton intervened.

Referring to Mr Couchman, the witness said to Justice Hinton, "I told you, I don't like the guy."

He told Mr Couchman that he had tuned out and accused Mr Couchman of "waffling".

The witness denied being the one calling the shots to get rid of the body.

"I was annoyed because he came that night like the professional body remover with a tarpaulin and electrical cord and he was failing to remove the body and it was turning into a spectacle."

He said he tried to walk off a number of times but Mr Gunbie told him that if he didn't help, the body would stay on the property.

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, Mr Gunbie pulled up with a man the Crown says 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 property.

"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, attach 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 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."

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