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Kidnap accused didn't know victim: lawyer

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/02/2017

Lance Murphy © Counties Manakau Police Lance Murphy When he discovered the powerful figure of his co-accused standing over a prone and bashed man, a scared Steve Gunbie had no option but to help hide the dead man's body, his lawyer says.

Gunbie, 38, is standing trial for helping to kidnap and then hide Lance John Murphy's body after he was killed on a hilltop in Puhoi in November 2015.

His co-accused, 52-year-old Michael Joseph Davies, also known as Michael Waipouri, is accused of kidnapping, cuffing and tying a hood over the head of his long time friend, Mr Murphy, before bashing him to death.

On Friday, Gunbie told the High Court at Auckland, he led Davies by car to the hill on the Puhoi property of a friend, believing Davies needed to get to a high point for phone reception.

But when Davies spent a long time up the hill, Gunbie followed to check what was happening and came upon Davies standing over Mr Murphy's body and holding a wooden baseball bat with blood "everywhere" on the ground.

Davies immediately began "barking" instructions.

"[It] seemed like everybody was yelling at me," Gunbie said.

Davies threw Mr Murphy's body into the back of Gunbie's four-wheel-drive and they drove further up the hill where Davies dumped the body, he said.

Gunbie later moved the body on at least two more occasions, the Crown alleged.

But with Davies having earlier threatened the Crown's prosecutor in the courtroom, Gunbie's lawyer Adam Couchman said to the jury that they may already think Davies is dangerous when he is angry.

So it was reasonable to think Gunbie would only have acted in ways to get away from Davies after being shocked to arrive and see him standing over a dead body, Mr Couchman said.

He also said Gunbie never participated in the kidnap of Mr Murphy.

He said Gunbie was not friends with Davies and did not know Mr Murphy.

Instead, Davies was an ex-partner of Gunbie's sister, and it was in her home that Davies first assaulted Mr Murphy in front of a shocked Gunbie, Mr Couchman said.

Davies earlier in the trial said he killed Mr Murphy because he feared for his life.

He said Mr Murphy had boasted he was a hit man, who had killed 10 people, including a work colleague from a steel factory called Jim Donnelly, who went missing in 2004.

He also believed Mr Murphy was possessed by evil demons.

"I realised I had a loose cannon out on the street with a dark hate for me and the element of surprise on me," Davies said in reference to Mr Murphy.

The trial continues.

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