CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – A man accused of murdering a former gang member at a Christchurch housing complex admitted part of the fatal attack when speaking to police. Motu Smith said he “chose to stay alive” when the other man “raged out” at him after taking meth. Smith is accused of beating Daniel Hawkins, inflicting severe injuries to his head and then cutting his throat and stabbing his neck. He then fled the scene in the alleged victim’s car, leaving him to die on his bed in a pool of his own blood.
The Crown alleges that Smith’s actions were part of a “spree” of offending during which he violently attacked two other men, also fleeing in their vehicles. However, Smith claims that he was acting in “self-defense” when he injured Hawkins.
Losing his life at that time would be the starting point of where New Zealand’s culture or thought process would change. People will know that to even think we would harm someone or choose to stay alive wouldn’t even be an option for any of us anymore.
Emergency services were called to a community housing complex off Brougham Street about 3pm on April 24, 2021, where they found Hawkins in his unit with critical injuries. He died a short time later. Smith, who was living at the complex with his mother at the time, was charged with murdering Hawkins.
He has pleaded not guilty to that charge. However, he later changed his plea and admitted to several other charges, including stealing cars, strangling a man, and giving false information to the police. The trial is expected to take three weeks.
The defense claims that Smith was acting in self-defense and used what he believed was reasonable force in a series of incidents, including the altercation with Hawkins. Witnesses are expected to provide their accounts, including people who lived at the housing complex, forensic experts, and police officers who worked on the investigation.
Hawkins, a former member of the Mongrel Mob gang, was facing charges at the time of his death. His partner, Nyomi Coleman, described their troubled relationship but also expressed her love and adoration for Hawkins. She reflected on his commitment to turning his life around and the impact of his death on her and her daughter.
The trial at the High Court in Christchurch is ongoing, with more information and evidence to be presented in the coming weeks.