A man accused of participating in Salim Mehajer’s allegedly faked car accident isn’t guilty because he didn’t know an insurance claim would be lodged over one of the damaged vehicles, his barrister says.
Michael Moufferrige is on trial in the District Court charged with dishonestly and for financial gain damaging property over the October 2017 crash, which occurred as Mehajer travelled to court to face a hearing over assaulting a taxi driver.
Moufferrige sat in the dock in the centre of the District Court in Darlinghurst on Monday morning with socially distanced jurors on either side of him in a scene described by Acting Judge Gregory Woods as “theatre in the round”.
“You are the first jury in NSW ever to sit divided on both sides of the courtroom,” Judge Woods told the 12 men and women.
The Crown alleges Moufferrige was offered $10,000 to provide a second vehicle in the staged crash but asked his brother Elias to use his car instead, as Moufferrige did not have insurance on his own.
The crash occurred on the morning of October 16, 2017 when a Mitsubishi Overland driven by Elias’s wife Fakaha Malinda Moufferrige collided with a white Mercedes Benz driven by Mehajer.
An insurance claim was later filed over the Mitsubishi.
“It’s going to be hard to work out who’s who in the zoo,” said Crown prosecutor Tony McCarthy as he explained the characters in, and intricacies of, the alleged plot. Seven people were charged over the incident.
The Crown argues that Moufferrige knew an insurance claim would flow from the car crash that would require passing off what had happened as a “genuine accident” and that this fulfils the “dishonest” element of the charge.
But Moufferrige’s barrister Michael Fokkes said his client had no idea there would be an insurance claim.
It was not in dispute that the cars were damaged or that Moufferrige, his brother and their respective partners stood to gain $10,000, Mr Fokkes said.
But he likened a criminal charge to a recipe and the dishonesty element as a crucial missing ingredient in this case.
“A chocolate cake has a list of ingredients. If you don’t have every ingredient to make the chocolate cake, ultimately when you cook it you don’t have the chocolate cake,” Mr Fokkes said. “A criminal charge is exactly the same.”
Elias and Fakaha Malinda Moufferrige are expected to give evidence at the trial as well as a crash scene expert.
More to come