Deal with King Cobra gang went bad, court told

Last updated 05:00 24/07/2012

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Two men were allegedly kidnapped and beaten after a business arrangement with the King Cobras gang turned sour.

King Cobra members and associates Joe Tie, Robert Logo, Ross Romana, Sione Muli and Ofisa Kopelani are on trial in the High Court at Auckland charged with two counts of kidnapping, three counts of blackmail, injuring with intent to injure, wounding, and possession and supply of methamphetamine.

Prosecutor Scott McColgin told the jury the underworld saga began in October 2010 when an Asian man known as Han engaged the King Cobras to find a man, known as Johnson, who owed him $70,000.

He agreed to pay the Pacific Island gang $10,000 for their services.

They located the man but Johnson could not pay his debt to Han, so Han was unable to pay his debt to the King Cobras.

McColgin said in December 2010, Han was taken to a house in Bond St, Kingsland, with Romana, Kopelani, Logo and Tie present.

Realising things had taken a bad turn, Han rang a Chinese friend, Jack Wu, and in Chinese, told him to seek out senior King Cobra Rocky Pulete to help him.

Wu located another gang member at Rocky Pulete's house who accompanied him to the Bond St address.

McColgin said in the meantime, the amount owed was ratcheted up with Romana now demanding $10,000 each for him and Logo, $20,000 for Tie and another $10,000 for the use of his house.

When Wu arrived with the new gang member, Romana became enraged and began assaulting Wu, McColgin said.

The pair were punched and kicked and told they had to pay half of the money the next day.

Wu's keys were taken and he was told if he reported the car missing, it would be burned and he would be "hunted down".

The pair managed to raise the alarm by pretending to call friends asking for money.

A Chinese speaking police officer called their mobile phones and they were able to give their location and describe their predicament.

Police arrived and arrested the men soon after.

McColgin urged the jury not to let their thinking be clouded by the fact Han had engaged the King Cobras to locate a man for him.

The trial before Justice Patricia Courtney is scheduled for three weeks.

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