Gangs spark hotel lockdown

LOCKDOWN: Bob Hemmingson locked the doors to the Foxton Hotel fearing gang tensions in the town were exploding.
JONATHAN CAMERON/The Manawatu Standard
LOCKDOWN: Bob Hemmingson locked the doors to the Foxton Hotel fearing gang tensions in the town were exploding.

A Foxton publican took drastic measures to keep his patrons safe when van loads of gang members tried to enter his bar just hours after a gang member was shot.

Bob Hemmingson locked the doors to the Foxton Hotel about 6pm on Thursday, fearing gang tensions in the town were exploding.

"They send the woman in to get a beer then next minute all their yobbos arrive I've seen it before.

"Our locals don't want to mix with them."

Foxton locals were tense because patched Black Power, Nomads and Head Hunters gang members had strolled the streets for the past week in the lead-up to the tangi of notorious criminal and Nomads founder Dennis "Mossie" Hines, who died in jail from natural causes last week. About 1000 people attended the tangi.

The shot man was Tony Cootes, 25, Mr Hines' stepson. He has been in jail for aggravated robbery, and on Thursday night suffered shotgun wounds to the leg, which were not life-threatening. He was airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital after the shooting, but was later transferred to Hutt Hospital, where he is under police guard.

Another man believed to be involved with gangs was also hurt on Thursday, but information about his identity and condition could not be verified.

Detective Sergeant Marc Hercock was appealing to the public for information on Thursday's events.

Mr Hemmingson, a resident of Foxton for 20 years, had a "few run-ins with Mossie" over the years, and refused to let him drink in his pub.

Yesterday, people were wary and subdued and Main St was empty except for a few parked cars and the occasional shopper.

A man told the Manawatu Standard to "get away, get the f... away or I'll knock you on your f... ass" when asked if he knew anything about the shooting.

The town, population 2715, had been on tenterhooks all week as residents feared the "bad old days" of violent gang confrontations were returning, said a New World senior staff member who wanted to be known only as Dennis.

Horowhenua Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Wendy Foreman warned Neighbourhood Support representatives across Horowhenua to place their neighbourhoods on "lockdown" in the days leading up to Hines' funeral.

She sent out notices to all her contacts in Foxton and Levin ahead of the funeral, telling them to pass on the word to stay "low-key" during the week. "We told them they need to lock things down, and be more vigilant."

This type of information was often sent out when criminal activity is known to have happened in the area, she said.

Dennis said it was a reminder of what it used to be like when the Nomads ruled the roost.

In 1993, gang violence in the sleepy town made national headlines when respected doctor Howard Teppett, 79, died during the aggravated robbery of his Thynne St home by two Nomad associates. His sister Joyce Marsden, 78, was sexually assaulted during the attack.

Foxtonites were angry and ran the Nomads out of town, Dennis said. Since then only a few "bad eggs" had caused problems, he said.

The supermarket had taken "extreme precautions" by locking the Main St entrance door an hour earlier, at 5pm, to prevent gang members and associates from stealing meat, which had happened in the past, he said.

"Also, we just got the staff on alert to keep an eye on things."

A number of out-of-town people and patched gang members had been to the supermarket to buy beer, but were quite civil, he said.

Manawatu Standard