Massey stabbing: Accused killer wrote to John Key, lived in car after messy divorce

The ex-husband accused of killing Jennifer Yang in a West Auckland stabbing says his life spiralled out of control after he refused to pay his estranged partner $87,000.

Manchao Li, 65, denies murdering his ex-wife last year and breaching a protection order.

Li on Thursday told the High Court at Auckland he was homeless and mentally ill within a few years of the divorce.

The court heard young thieves burgled Li in about 2004 and he was displeased how the Youth Court handled the matter.

Li said he wrote to a newspaper and won support from an Act party member to submit a petition on crime to Parliament.

He said he and Yang separated in about 2005 but the postmarital rancour didn’t set in immediately.

Li said after the initial separation, his ex-wife asked for another $87,000 unconditionally.

“She felt that the money I paid to her was not enough,” he told the court through a Mandarin interpreter.

“But to be honest, it was my own fault. I regret this. If I paid her this money, everything would be all right.”

He said Yang started asking the Family Court for a half-share of the couple’s house, and he could not accept that.

Li said he moved to Australia to be closer to his parents but moved back after one month.

“I didn’t have anything in New Zealand.”

He spent much of the time then moping in his room and said his mind grew muddled.

“And I got very ill and I got depressed.”

Then he went to China, where his first wife lived. But he returned to New Zealand after two to three months.

Jurors heard Li moved to Christchurch for its cheaper property prices.

He got work as a bus driver travelling around the South Island, and moved to Queenstown.

But he said his mental health was still poor then, and his work suffered.

“When I drove, I received complaints from other drivers, so the transport agency [suspended] my licence.”

Then he lost his job, lost his Queenstown accommodation, and had to live in his car.

He said he got sick of waking up to find ice in his car and his water bottle frozen, so he returned to Auckland.

Meanwhile, he said his court troubles continued and he spent years of savings on legal fees.

Li said he wrote at least 50 letters to government departments and politicians including John Key, the Prime Minister at the time.

Jurors heard Li also stood outside a Christchurch court protesting for three days with a big banner.

He said he was hospitalised for periods of 10-20 days for mental health issues.

Li is expected to continue giving evidence later on Thursday.

The Crown claims Li was bent on revenge for years before he stabbed Yang in a frenzied daytime attack last year.

The trial continues.

Domestic violence – do you need help?

If you’re in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don’t stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744 633
• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450

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