A woman, whose name and occupation is suppressed, told the court from behind a screen on Thursday that she was followed by someone in a silver Audi after she finished work about 10.30pm on April 4, 2016. She could see through her rear view mirror that the driver kept turning their lights on and off. The driver would also pull over briefly before pulling out again.
“I thought it was really odd someone turning their lights on and off that time of night.”
She initially assumed it was a drunk-driver, but then realised the car was “deliberately following me”.
She called *555 as she travelled west on Moorhouse Ave and was put through to police, who told her to keep driving until they could catch up to her.
The car was still behind her as she continued west on Blenheim Rd and into Hornby, and she became “very nervous”.
She then turned into a petrol station in Hornby and did a U-turn near the food court. The silver car was only “a couple of metres away”.
Police caught up with her between five and 10 minutes later and pulled over the Audi, finding Marong at the wheel.
Constable Zeb Harland told the court he assumed the driver was drunk. Marong handed over his driver licence and did a roadside breath test. There was no alcohol in his system.
Harland said he told Marong police had received a driving complaint.
Marong allegedly told Harland he was “simply going for a drive after work to wind down”.
“He enjoyed driving around the city at this time of night, he said he might have been driving a little slow but didn’t think it was much under the speed limit.”
Marong claimed his lights were flashing “due to some sort of fault” and he denied following another car, saying he had been driving around aimlessly, Harland said.
The constable gave Marong a verbal warning for his driving.
The Crown said in their opening statement on Monday there was “overwhelming evidence” against Marong, including his DNA on a lighter and a beanie left at the scene. In the weeks leading up to the killing, the 33-year-old Googled what kidnappers used to make people unconscious. He also made multiple searches about necrophilia and researched New Zealand suppliers of the chemical chloroform.
Marong’s defence cited “mental imbalance” in their brief opening on Monday.
The Crown was originally expected to call evidence from more than 80 witnesses during the three-week trial before Justice Cameron Mander, but that was later revised to about 40.
Later on Thursday the court heard from Marong’s friend Abdellih Rharrabti, who helped him clean his Audi in the days after Duckmanton’s disappearance.
Rharrabti met Marong when they worked together at Tegel in 2014. The two, both muslims, quickly became friends, with Marong visiting his home at least once a fortnight.
“He was a friend. Was nice, was friendly to each other. We used to have a lot of fun. He talks a lot, everyone had fun with him no problem.”
On May 14 Rharrabti, who was trained in Halal way of killing, received a text from Marong asking him to go a farm with him to slaughter a sheep. Rharrabti said he could not.
Later that night Marong arrived at his house on Blankney St, Hornby and dropped off a big piece of lamb in a Nissan Rharrabti had not seen before.
Marong was only there about five minutes before leaving, Rharrabti said.
“He was looking like he was in a hurry I asked if he wanted to stay but he didn’t.”
Marong allegedly murdered Duckmanton that night.
The following morning Marong called asking Rharrabti to pick him up from McDonald’s in Rolleston. His Audi had broken down.
When Marong entered his car he sat in the back seat and barely spoke to him as Rharrabti drove him home.
“He looked sick,” Rharrabti said.
The following day Marong came around to his house for dinner. Rharrabti noticed Marong was not his usual self and asked him what was wrong. Marong started crying, he said.
“I know his character he’s funny, it’s hard when you see him crying, it’s very strange. I was confused, I asked is there some problem. Can I help you?
“He said ‘I don’t feel like I’m a good man’.”
The following Sunday Rharrabti went with Marong to pick up his Audi from another home in Hornby. Marong dropped the Audi back at Rharrabti’s home to be cleaned.
Marong told him it was too expensive to take his car to be cleaned and asked him to help.
Rharrabti vaccumed the inside of the car while Marong took rubbish out of the car. The two then cleaned and polished the car.
The Audi stayed at Rharrabti’s home until police seized it on May 26.