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'He said he killed my father', court told

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017

The son of a widower bludgeoned to death on a Puhoi hilltop says the man accused of murdering his father confessed to the killing over the phone.

Michael Joseph Davies, 52, is standing trial accused of kidnapping Waiuku man Lance Murphy, a friend of 30 years, before beating him to death with a tree branch in Puhoi, north of Auckland, in November 2015.

On Tuesday, Mr Murphy's son, 29-year-old James Murphy, told the High Court at Auckland Davies - also known as Michael Waipouri - had admitted the killing in the days after Mr Murphy's disappearance during a rambling phone call.

"I rang [the] phone. Michael answered, said he killed my father," he said.

"[He was] ranting and raving, ... talking about spirits and how dad was an evil man and he had to do it... He just said he killed my father."

James Murphy said he didn't go to the police because he was unsure if the claim was true and also feared for his life.

Under cross-examination, he said he may have told Davies "we love you uncle, all the same" in response.

"He was my godfather."

Mr Murphy's daughter, Christy Thompson, earlier told the court she was worried her father was using methamphetamine and had fallen out with several friends following his wife's death earlier in 2015.

Davies' co-accused, 38-year-old Steve Gunbie, is charged with helping in the kidnapping and with hiding the body.

Prosecutors say after an argument, Davies convinced Mr Murphy - a father of three - to drive to Gunbie's house in Warkworth, north of Auckland, before handcuffing him, putting a bag over his head and throwing him in the back of a car.

Davies later gave police a vivid description of how he killed Mr Murphy, still bound, near an associate's house in Puhoi, with three blows that crushed his skull, days later returning to collect the body before dumping it in a ditch near Wellsford, Crown lawyer Gareth Kayes said.

Davies' lawyers say the killing was self-defence and one witness told the court he had heard Mr Murphy was a professional hitman and connected to the cold case killing of Jane Furlong.

The trial is in its second week.

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