Four men with alleged Mongrel Mob connections went on trial at the Nelson District Court today, charged with aggravated robbery at a rural property in Marlborough.
James Samuel Kiriona, his younger brother Joshua Jade Kiriona, Daniel Waka Minogue, and Tuwhare Hoani Mana Pui appeared before a jury and denied charges related to the Canvastown home invasion in September last year.
Joshua Kiriona, Minogue and Pui also denied charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and burglary of drugs. Minogue is also charged with injuring with intent and threatening to kill.
The Crown contends that three of the men, assisted by James Kiriona, invaded and robbed the Te Hora Pa Road home of Reginald "Reg" Mischeski and Hayley Kramer in September last year, disguised and looking for drugs.
During the home invasion, Kramer, who was eight months pregnant, was kicked in the stomach and repeatedly punched in the face by Minogue, prosecutor Mark O'Donoghue told the court.
One of the men, who had covered his face with a red bandanna, also twisted Kramer's finger and threatened to kill her and her family, as he left the house, he said.
Pui repeatedly beat Mischeski around the head with a pair of "garden loppers", before the men started searching his property for drugs, O'Donoghue said.
The three men fled, with bottles of Mischeski's prescription medicine, when Kramer called the police, the court heard. Both she and Mischeski were taken to Wairau Hospital with bruising and lacerations.
Mischeski was known by his alleged attackers, and had long-standing connections with members of the Blenheim Mongrel Mob, the court heard during O'Donoghue's opening address.
O'Donoghue alluded to text messages that would be presented as evidence, which indicated that James Kiriona had been ripped off by Mischeski in the past, and that he wanted revenge against him.
James Kiriona's lawyer, Rennie Gould, told the jury in her opening statement there were always "two sides to every story".
"Please keep an open mind," she told the jury of seven women and five men, and be "very careful when listening to evidence".
She said her client, who the Crown claims was a party to the robbery despite not being present, could not be found guilty simply because he had text messaged his brother, Josh, in the days before the home invasion, telling him to "rip Reg" if he got a chance.
That text did not equate to an "order", Gould said.
Joshua Kiriona's lawyer, Tony Bamford, said his client was not involved in the robbery, although he had been at a nearby property that night.
There was no forensic evidence linking Josh Kiriona with the crime, and that "there is no way he would go and do this to Mr Mischeski", whom he had known for a long time and was on "good terms" with, he said.
Steven Zindel and Hamish Riddoch, defence lawyers for Pui and Minogue, declined to make opening statements.
The trial, overseen by Judge David McKegg, was set to continue for the rest of this week.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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