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Murder victim was hogtied to tree: witness

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/02/2017

A man bashed to death on a hill in Puhoi was still alive and hogtied to a tree making gurgling noises when the property's owner found him, a court has heard.

Lance Murphy died in November 2015 and Michael Joseph Davies, 52, is standing trial accused of kidnapping him before beating him to death with a bat and tree branch.

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

On Thursday, the property owner, who cannot be named, told the High Court at Auckland he helped to dispose of Mr Murphy's body.

He said he had been at home high on a cocktail of drugs on November 21, 2015, when his friend Gunbie arrived in a red Mazda with another man, who looked like Davies.

Gunbie and Davies then drove up a road leading to the top of the man's property before returning and instructing the man to not let anyone up the hill.

However, the property owner immediately went with a companion up the hill where they found a man on his stomach tied to a tree.

The property owner's companion inspected the man and said he was still alive making gurgling noises.

"I presume he was fighting to live," the property owner said.

Freaking out, he immediately sought out Gunbie and asked him to remove the injured man.

But when Gunbie eventually returned, the man was dead and the property owner helped him drag the body out of a ditch and load it into a four-wheel-drive.

The pair then drove to a rural road where they dumped the body.

The man said he did not want to help dispose of the body but was on a "mission" to get it off his property.

Davies' lawyers say the 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 continues

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