You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Lance Murphy murder trial: key facts

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/03/2017

Michael Davies has been found guilty of killing Waiuku man Lance Murphy. Here are the key facts.


The accused: Two men, Michael Davies, also known as Michael Waipouri, aged 52, and Steve Gunbie, 38. Davies was charged with murder and kidnapping and Gunbie with kidnapping and hiding the body.

The victim: Waiuku man Lance Murphy, a 56-year-old long-time friend of Davies.


On November 21, 2015, Davies and Mr Murphy drove to Gunbie's mother's house, north of Warkworth. That evening, Davies took a baseball bat and attacked Mr Murphy, hitting him on the arm and head.

After sleeping for some hours, Davies woke, cuffed Mr Murphy, tied a hood over his head and drove him to a property on Noakes Hill Road in Puhoi where a friend of Gunbie lived.

On a hilltop at the property, Davies hauled Mr Murphy out of the car and struck him repeatedly with a baseball bat.

Finally, he picked up a tree branch and delivered three heavy strikes that killed Mr Murphy.

Mr Murphy's body was found three weeks later after the man living at the Puhoi property, who cannot be named, told police where it was.


Police arrested Davies in December 2015.

Gunbie was caught days later during a police raid in the Coromandel after he led police on a three-week manhunt.


The prosecution argued:

* There is no dispute Davies killed Mr Murphy with a baseball bat and tree branch

* Forensic and police evidence not only supported this, but Davies confessed to the killing during multiple police interviews and court testimony

* Davies kidnapped Mr Murphy by cuffing him, tying a hood over his head and forcing him into a car

* Davies intended to kill Mr Murphy, telling police he was a skilled axeman who swung at Mr Murphy with great power. Davies also said that as a former meat worker he knew "when an animal was dead"

* Gunbie had participated in the kidnapping by driving the car and then hid Mr Murphy's body to help Davies escape arrest

Davies' defence argued:

* Davies had strong spiritual beliefs and a paranoid personality that led him to believe Mr Murphy was a dangerous enemy.

* This included believing Mr Murphy was possessed by demons, was a hit man with up to 10 kills to his name and had even murdered his wife by giving her a lethal dose of medicine

* Mr Murphy had threatened Davies' friends

* Early in the trial, the defence argued Davies killed Mr Murphy out of self-defence, however Judge Anne Hinton threw that out as justification for Davies' actions

Gunbies' defence argued:

* He never drove the car Mr Murphy was held hostage in, and did not move his dead body to help Davies escape arrest. Rather he moved the body to get it off a friend's property


The jury of four men and eight women took about two and a half hours to find Davies guilty of kidnapping and murder, while acquitting Gunbie of both the charges he faced.


Davies will be sentenced on April 12.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon