A falling out during a fishing trip offered motive for the execution-style murder of Mahmoud ‘Mick’ Hawi, who was ambushed in his car outside a suburban Sydney gym in 2018, a jury has heard.
The former Comancheros national president was shot in the head several times moments after leaving Fitness First Rockdale and getting into his black Mercedes on February 15, 2018.
Yusuf Guney Nazlioglu, 38, is standing trial in the NSW Supreme Court accused of being the balaclava-clad gunman who ran up to Mr Hawi’s parked car and fired the fatal shots through the driver-side window.
Nazlioglu allegedly sprinted off and jumped into a silver Mercedes driven by Jamal Eljaidi, the jury was told on Tuesday.
Both men – who have pleaded not guilty to murder – are accused of torching that car minutes after leaving the scene of the killing and escaping in a second getaway vehicle.
The crown case is circumstantial with no direct evidence showing either man was responsible for the murder.
‘There are eyewitnesses … but no witness will say they saw the accused Mr Nazlioglu shoot the deceased,’ crown prosecutor Lou Longo said in his opening address.
The second getaway car – stored in the garage of a Bexley safe house in the days after the murder – was found a month later in Rosebery, the Crown alleges.
Both accused men’s genetic profile has been linked to DNA evidence found inside the car and a balaclava was found inside splattered with gunshot residue, Mr Longo said.
Mr Hawi’s widow, Carolina Gonzalez, said her husband and Nazlioglu had been very close friends and spent a lot of time together in 2015 and 2016.
But she said the relationship soured during a fishing trip to the NSW Central Coast in the summer of 2016/17, when Mr Hawi called his wife to say they’d had a disagreement.
‘Mike said he had had a disagreement with Yusuf and that he’d asked him to go back to Sydney,’ Ms Gonzalez said.
‘He said he did something that embarrassed me with someone … I said ‘OK I’m sure you’ll get over it.’
‘My husband was very forgiving.’
But months later, Mr Hawi told his wife the friendship was ‘over’ and that ‘he couldn’t handle his behaviour anymore’.
Avni Djemal, representing Nazlioglu, agreed his client and the deceased had fallen out about a year before the murder.
But that’s not a motive for murder, and others had ‘a greater motive’ to kill Mr Hawi, he said in his opening address.
Regardless, the big issue in the trial was Nazlioglu ‘is not that man’ shown on CCTV shooting Mr Hawi dead, the barrister said.
Mr Eljaidi’s barrister said he’d barely been involved in the trial given the ‘paucity of the evidence’ the Crown’s case has against the 32-year-old.
‘There is no suggestion of any evidence of motive on his behalf,’ David Dalton SC said.
The trial continues.