Defence claim early morning visit expected, not part of a violent vendetta

A trio of men are on trial in the New Plymouth District Court in connection with an incident at a New Plymouth house ...
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ

A trio of men are on trial in the New Plymouth District Court in connection with an incident at a New Plymouth house last year.

Two men accused of kidnapping a man, threatening him with a fishing knife and assaulting him with a dart have claimed they were only trying to collect on the man's substantial drug debt.

Raymond John Lewis Govenor and Alistair John Fox are jointly charged with aggravated burglary, kidnapping, assault with intent to injure and injures with intent to injure. Govenor also faces a charge of indecent assault.

These charges relate to an incident which is alleged to have taken place at the New Plymouth home of the victim in the early hours of March 13, 2016.

New Plymouth District Court Judge Chris Sygrove is presiding over a trial where it is alleged two men detained and ...
CHARLOTTE CURD / FAIRFAX NZ

New Plymouth District Court Judge Chris Sygrove is presiding over a trial where it is alleged two men detained and assaulted a man and, along with another, tried to pressure the victim to change his police statement.

Govenor and Fox are also charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice, along with co-accused Philip Free Knuckey.

All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges and their jury trial in the New Plymouth District Court began on Monday.

In his opening address prosecutor Jacob Bourke said Govenor and Fox were intent on taking the victim's property and causing him harm when they arrived at his address.

Bourke said no words were exchanged upon their arrival but when Govenor brandished a large fishing knife at the victim, he raised his arms in surrender. 

Govenor then punched him in the face and threatened to cut the victim's head off, Bourke said.

He said Fox demanded the victim's house keys and when they were handed over, the accused locked the doors, effectively barricading the man inside.

The victim was then ordered to hand his cell phone over, along with a small tin, which contained cannabis and methamphetamine.

It is alleged Govenor continued to threaten and physically assault the victim, including using the sharp end of a dart to make puncture marks on his arm before he indecently assaulted the man.

Before leaving the victim's home, Bourke said the two accused smoked the victim's methamphetamine before taking his car, tools and other property away on a ute and trailer they bought to the address.

After Govenor's arrest, Bourke said the accused immediately began to make attempts to get the victim to retract his police statement.

This included multiple phone calls he made from behind bars while on remand and also efforts he got a female friend to make on his behalf to put pressure on the victim.

At times, the woman would call Fox and Knuckey on her cell phone, while Govenor was still on the landline, effectively making it a three-way conversation, Bourke said.

The victim, who has name suppression, was the first of the Crown's 20 witnesses to give evidence at the trial.

He described how Govenor and Fox, men he had both met before, had arrived at his address.  When he opened the door, the first thing he saw was Govenor and a "big knife".

"He's got this wild look on his face, with the knife, and he ran at me," he told the court.

He spoke about an attempt he had made to escape out of the lounge window to get away from the two men.

He said "anyone in their right mind" would attempt to get out of the situation he was in.

"It was pretty scary."

He said the sexual element of the attack had ramped up the fears he had for his life.

But Govenor's lawyer Kylie Pascoe, in her opening address, painted a completely different picture of events and said her client did not deny going to the house but the victim had known he was coming and why.  

She said Govenor, at the request of a third party, went to the address to pick up property which served as security for a "substantial" drug debt the victim owed.

However, she said there had been no assault or any threats made towards the victim during the exchange, something Fox's lawyer Josie Mooney also highlighted.

All the accused denied any role in a plot to pervert the course of justice. 

The trial is expected to run until the end of the week.

 - Stuff

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