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Otara man choked by workmate, court hears

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017
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Leaving his work mate lying in a pool of blood inside an Otara garage, Teina Taunga sat in a car listening to music with a few more cans of bourbon and coke, prosecutors say.

Cleaner Gary Moore, 57, was found dead on his garage floor by his partner on July 31 last year.

His co-worker at Fisher & Paykel, 29-year-old Taunga, is now standing trial accused of murder.

Opening the Crown case at the High Court in Auckland on Monday, prosecutor Yelana Yelavich told the jury Taunga had beaten Mr Moore with a pool cue and then choked him after the pair started smoking meth and cannabis at about 4am.

The pair - who occasionally socialised outside of work - had been drinking and playing pool, along with Taunga's partner - Cheelai Christian - since about 10pm, Taunga bringing a dozen Woodstock bourbon and cokes and a bottle vodka with him, she said.

Ms Christian had left the get-together to go sleep in her car when the men began smoking P.

Ms Yelavich said while it was not clear what occurred next, pathologists' evidence was consistent with Mr Moore being beaten with a pool cue along his head and body.

As Mr Moore lay in his own blood, rather than calling an ambulance, Taunga went out to the driveway and sat in Moore's car with a few cans of drink, listening to music until police arrived about four hours later, the prosecutor said.

In subsequent interviews, Taunga would admit to choking Mr Moore, saying the pair had gotten into an argument and he had been trying to keep his workmate from attacking him, Ms Yelavich said.

"The issue in this trial will be whether Mr Taunga murdered him and this will come down to what Mr Taunga intended."

In a brief opening, defence lawyer Philip Hamlin said while Taunga had always accepted he had killed Mr Moore, he had not intended to do so.

"Never did he think or realise that what he had done had caused his death," he said, adding Taunga had gone to check on Mr Moore later and thought he was fine.

"There's no motive."

A "toxic cocktail" of drugs had been involved, he said.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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