Men guilty of lesser charges in home invasion case
Four defendants being retried over a Canvastown home invasion have been acquitted of the most serious charges they faced.
In a trial spanning a two-week period, defendants James Samuel Kiriona, his younger brother Joshua Jade Kiriona, Daniel Waka Minogue and Tuwhare Hoani Mana Pui were found not guilty of aggravated robbery, wounding to cause grievous bodily harm or threatening to kill.
Minogue was found guilty of kicking eight-months pregnant Hayley Kramer in the stomach. James Kiriona was acquitted of burglary but the other three defendants were found guilty on that charge.
The four had denied all charges relating to the September 24, 2012, Canvastown robbery at a jury trial in October last year, but that was abandoned after Judge David McKegg fell ill.
In his summary, Judge Chris Tuohy said the Crown alleged Joshua Kiriona wanted his Mongrel Mob colours so he recruited his associates, Minogue and Pui, on the command of James Kiriona, to carry out the aggravated robbery at the Canvastown home.
Reginald "Reg" Mischeski was repeatedly hit over the head with a pair of garden loppers in the process. His partner, eight-months pregnant Hayley Kramer, was kicked in the stomach by Minogue, before he took off with some tobacco and Mr Mischeski's medication, the Crown alleged.
The Crown alleged the men were looking for pseudoephedrine pills used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Defence counsel Tony Bamford, for Joshua Kiriona, questioned the credibility and reliability of Mr Mischeski as a witness. He said the incident was simply the result of a transaction going wrong.
Mr Bamford said on the day of the incident, had Kiriona spent all his drug money at the "pokies" and out of desperation he had no other option but to settle the deal with Mr Mischeski by providing fake drugs.
When Mr Mischeski revealed a pipe to smoke the faulty substance, Kiriona "came clean".
Mr Mischeski was obviously frustrated and things got out of control as a consequence, he said.
To describe Mr Mischeski as "no angel or saint" was an euphemistic way to describe a witness who had a lot to hide, he said.
Defence counsel for Pui, Steve Zindel, said there was a large amount of doubt and the jury could not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt.
Defence counsel for Minogue, Hamish Riddick, said he acted in self-defence because Ms Kramer had a steak knife.
While on the stand, Minogue had said, "She wasn't carving up a steak so you could only assume she was probably coming to stab me."
He also said he had no idea she was eight months pregnant.
Judge Tuohy told the jury: "It has been such a long trial with so many charges and so many defendants.
"The Mongrel Mob has a very poor reputation in the community generally and indeed it is considered by some as a criminal gang.
"It has a reputation and not a good one at that."
He warned the jury it was easy to be prejudicial against someone who was allegedly associated with the gang. Even if any of the defendants were in or affiliated to the Mongrel Mob this was not a crime, he said.
He urged the jury to "calmly, unemotively and analytically" look at the evidence and "not be swayed by sympathy or prejudice".