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'I closed my eyes and swung': Murray

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/08/2015

Michael Murray was just trying to protect a younger brother he raised like a son when he frantically swung a sickle and killed Connor Morris, a court has heard from the accused.

Murray, 34, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland accused of murdering Millie Elder-Holmes' 26-year-old boyfriend Mr Morris in Massey in August last year by striking him on the head with a long-handled sickle.

Murray took the stand to defend himself on Tuesday, describing how he had feared for the life of his brother, Stanley, whose nappies he had changed as a child.

Murray said a friend had angered Mr Morris' gang associates by kicking one of them after a party.

"One of them suggested we had f****d with the wrong people, he said.

"Not long after we saw a wave of men coming down the footpath ... Large men dressed in black."

Seeing one of his friends being beaten, he ran back to his property and grabbed the sickle that killed Murray.

"[My intention was] just to show them. Just to brandish it. To stop them from attacking," he said.

When he returned he saw a man grab his brother by the hair to bring him closer for an uppercut, and unsuccessfully yelled at him to stop, Murray said.

"I didn't want Stanley to be seriously injured, or maybe even killed," he said.

"I stepped forward ... I closed my eyes and swung."

He began to cry as he described how he had to look after his brother, 12 years his younger, after their mother died from cancer.

Last week jurors saw a police interview with Murray, conducted shortly after the attack, in which he denied being at the fight at all.

On Tuesday he admitted he had lied to the police.

"Prior to me going to the police station, I was watching the news and I was aware there would be retribution seeked from the Head Hunters," he said.

"I was quite fearful for my life."

But crown prosecutor David Johnstone said that could not explain why Murray had also lied to police the night of the attack, before seeing media reports about Mr Morris' death.

In opening for the defence, Marie Dyhrberg QC told the jury Murray had no "murderous intent" in attacking Mr Morris.

He had only tried to protect his loved ones and attacked in the heat of the moment, she said.

Earlier, the Crown's last witness, forensic pathologist Simon Stables, told the court a sole stab had passed through Mr Morris' skull and straight into his brain, killing him quickly.

Mr Morris died during a fight that broke out between two parties in the middle of Don Buck Road on August 3, 2014.

The trial continues.

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