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Man accused of father's murder "my rock"

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/02/2017
Lance Murphy © Counties Manakau Police Lance Murphy

A friend of Waiuku man Lance Murphy, who was bludgeoned to death north of Auckland in November 2015, says he had bragged he was a hitman years before his death.

Mr Murphy died in November 2015 and Michael Joseph Davies, 52, is standing trial accused of kidnapping him before beating him to death with a tree branch at the top of a hill in Puhoi.

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

On Wednesday, Levonne Manunui, a friend of the deceased man and Davies, told defence lawyers at the High Court at Auckland, Mr Murphy had twice told her he was a hitman.

However, under cross examination by the prosecution, she admitted no-one else had been with her at the time and that she thought Mr Murphy was gloating when he said it.

She said also said Mr Murphy's daughter Chralle Murphy had said her father was a hitman - a claim Ms Murphy had earlier denied.

Fellow witness Eric Murphy said Mr Murphy's daughter had also told him her father was a hitman during a drinking session at her house while he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

He said, on another occasion, he and Davies had also visited a female friend in the days before Mr Murphy died, who was "freaked out" because she claimed Mr Murphy had threatened to kill her.

Davies' lawyers say Mr Murphy's killing was self-defence.

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, prosecutor Gareth Kayes told the court.

The trial is scheduled to run four weeks.

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