Gang leader admits order to kill witness, baby

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 07/01/2014

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A Black Power member jailed for the shooting of police witness Christopher Crean in New Plymouth has for the first time admitted he ordered the murder of Mr Crean and the child in his arms.

Brownie Mane, 42, was vice-president of the New Plymouth chapter of Black Power in 1996.

Mane made the admission to the Parole Board last month when he first became eligible for parole.

He was found guilty of the murder of Mr Crean at a trial in the High Court in New Plymouth in 1997 and was sentenced to the mandatory life sentence with a non-parole period of 17 years - one of the longest jail terms handed down in New Zealand at that time.

Three others, Symon George Manihera, Robert Shane Maru and Denis Luke were also jailed for the murder.

Mane had ordered Maru to shoot Mr Crean to stop him giving evidence in a Black Power attack on a Mongrel Mob member.

On the first murder attempt Mr Crean had answered the door with his baby in his arms and Maru decided not to shoot.

Mane remonstrated with Maru and told him he should have shot Mr Crean and the baby, the trial was told.

When Maru returned on another night he fatally shot Mr Crean as he answered the door. Mr Crean did not have the baby in his arms.

"Mane confirmed today that he directed Mr Maru to shoot both Mr Crean and his child and said that he was prepared to have done that himself if Mr Maru would not - that was how serious he was about ensuring that orders were carried out," the board's report states.

The board met with Mr Crean's parents before the hearing.

"They strongly oppose Mane's release, but said that if he is to be released at any time in the future, they do not want him to return to Taranaki," the board said.

Mane understood and accepted their views, had expressed remorse for his offending and said that he had written to his victims after his exit from the gang, expressing similar sentiments, the board said.

Mane had since turned his back on the gang.

"He did that in reaction to what he saw as their abandonment of him.

"Since then he has continued to eschew the gang lifestyle and has become a motivational speaker, encouraging young people, in particular, not to be involved in gangs and crime."

It was revealed that for the last year Mane has been housed in an "external self care unit" and has a minimum security classification.

There had been no incidents since 1998 and he tested drug free.

During that time he had been on regular escorted outings into the community to carry out everyday activities such as opening a bank account and buying clothes, the board said.

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He had also been involved in shopping and library visits and he had spent about 20 hours each week in a community work party, clearing Department of Conservation tracks and other such activities.

However, in declining parole, the board said it did not believe that Mane had reached the point where he could be safely freed.

- Taranaki Daily News

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