Murdered sex worker was turning her life around, court hears

OneNews 11 February 2014
Christchurch woman Ngatai ‘Mellory’ Manning was in the process of turning her life around after years of prostitution when she was murdered, a court has heard.

Ms Manning went missing from Manchester St on the night of December 18, 2008. Her body, partially dressed and badly beaten, was found in the Avon River the following morning.

Mauha Huatahi Fawcett, a Mongrel Mob prospect at the time of the murder, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and killing the 27-year-old.

The High Court in Christchurch heard evidence today from Ms Manning’s partner.

He said Ms Manning was working one last night as a prostitute to pay for Christmas presents for her family when she was attacked. He said the couple were trying to get off drugs and were taking methadone, a drug prescribed by doctors to help addicts get clean.

The Crown alleges Fawcett picked Ms Manning up from Manchester St and took her to a gang pad in Galbraith Ave where she was attacked as part of a gang initiation.

Prosecutor Pip Currie yesterday told the jury the Mongrel Mob was taxing sex workers on Manchester St at the time of Ms Manning’s death, and that she had refused to pay them.

Ms Manning’s partner told the court she had been working on the street since she was 14 years old, and that she would never have voluntarily get into a gang car, or with someone with a facial tattoo.

Several women who worked alongside Ms Manning today spoke of the gang’s standover tactics and intimidation, demanding to be paid $20 for each job the prostitutes did.