The Killer Clown Fiends behind the cold-blooded execution of a drug dealer have failed in a bid to have their murder convictions overturned.
Dean Browne, 38, was repeatedly hit with a hammer while he slept at an Oriental Bay house on January 21, 2010, after an alleged falling-out over drugs.
After he was fatally injured he was injected with morphine, and the Crown said he was already dead when he was put into the boot of a car and his body driven to New Plymouth, where it was left in a garage and discovered the next day.
Aucklanders Mikhail Rafael Pandey-Johnson and Karl Teangiotau Nuku were found guilty of his murder, Nuku for wielding the hammer and Pandey-Johnson for encouraging him, although he was not present at the time.
A third man, Rhys Fournier, was acquitted. All three men were members of a gang called the Killer Clown Fiends.
Pandey-Johnson and Nuku appealed their convictions and sentences earlier this year.
A Court of Appeal decision released today dismissed their challenge.
The pairs' lawyers had said the order that the pair serve at least 18 years of a life sentence should be reduced, but the Crown said the attack on Mr Browne had been planned and it was hard to imagine a more cold-blooded execution.
Much of the appeal was about the role of the woman - known as Witness 29 because her name was suppressed - who injected Mr Browne with morphine, and whether the morphine could be excluded as having killed Mr Browne.
Pandey-Johnson and Nuku argued her evidence should have been ruled inadmissable and lead to a miscarriage of justice.
The Crown said the jury saw Witness 29 give evidence over the course of a week during the trial and considered her evidence critically. It looked for support for her story from scientific and other evidence and when support was absent it rejected her evidence.
- © Fairfax NZ News
South Taranaki's first family of gelato are changing gear.
Stepping into the Strandon Barber, on New Plymouth's Devon St East, was like doing the time warp.
Betty and Trevor Bremner have created the Sshhmute, a practice mute for brass instruments.
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church is supporting the move to have female bishops consecrated.
A New Plymouth punter has won a share of the $1m Lotto First Division.
What do you think of the proposed alcohol policy?Related story: Push to close bars at 2am
Get your mid week news fix
Get your South Taranaki news online
with Rachel Stewart
with Gordon Brown
Matt Rilkoff's perspective of contemporary life
With Kathryn Calvert
The self-confessed bard of Brixton, offers views on life, politics and Akubra hats.
with Glenn McLean