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Ōtara murder re-trial: Jury finds Timothy Huriwaka guilty of manslaughter

Joseph Ngamu was shot in the stomach and another man was killed at a block of flats in Bairds Rd. Photo /...

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Joseph Ngamu was shot in the stomach and another man was killed at a block of flats in Bairds Rd. Photo / Google

A Black Power member accused of orchestrating a revenge plot against a man he suspected of talking to police about him – resulting in a confused, fatal melee at a South Auckland home – has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Timothy Kahurangi Huriwaka, who has been on trial for murder since last week, used his gang affiliation as a defence.

The president of the Rotorua chapter of Black Power had been visiting the home where the double shooting occurred, his lawyer had pointed out to jurors. He dismissed a plan to shoot up the place as implausible, describing it as akin to his client signing his own death warrant.

Today’s verdict marked Huriwaka’s second trial for the charge, after the first ended with a hung jury last year.

This time, jurors in the High Court at Auckland deliberated for about five hours over the course of two days before reaching the guilty verdict for manslaughter instead of murder. Huriwaka was also found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily injury to a second man who was shot in the stomach but survived.

Huriwaka touched the glass separating the dock from the gallery, giving a thumbs-up to a crying supporter as he was led out of the courtroom and back to jail to await sentencing in November.

Relatives of the man who died also cried as the verdict was read, sharing the moment with police who sat near them and offered support.

Prosecutors alleged during the trial that Huriwaka harboured a year-long grudge against Bruce Lee Ngamu as he sat in jail from February 2019 to February 2020. He believed Ngamu had given a statement about him to police, although his jail term was unrelated to the statement, prosecutors said.

Huriwaka had been out of jail for just 10 days when he drove his mother’s Honda station wagon with two others to a Bairds Rd home in Ōtara where Ngamu and his brother Joseph Ngamu lived.

He asked Bruce Lee Ngamu about the police statement but left without incident, witnesses said.

Huriwaka returned later that night with two underage teen associates and Michael Keith Robinson, a Killer Beez gang member he had befriended while in prison. Robinson, who didn’t know anyone at the property, was armed with a gun he had picked up that evening.

Robinson was allowed into the yard of the Bairds Rd home to have a drink while Huriwaka remained at the gate talking to Bruce Lee Ngamu, prosecutors said.

But while inside the property, Robinson pulled out the gun and pointed it at Joseph Ngamu’s chest. Joseph Ngamu grabbed the gun and pulled it down but was shot in the stomach. In a struggle that ensued, Robinson was pushed against a fence. He shot again, hitting another man who died a short time later. The victim continues to have name suppression.

Huriwaka and Robinson were arrested days later.

Robinson pleaded guilty to murder last year and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 12 and a half years.

Crown prosecutor David Stevens did not suggest to the jury that Huriwaka and Robinson had intended to kill two men that night. But they jointly executed a dangerous plan to use a loaded weapon to intimidate the Ngamu family knowing there was a risk of someone getting killed. He described a volatile situation in which people had been drinking alcohol and where matters escalated quickly.

“This wasn’t a social visit,” Stevens said at the outset of the trial. “The defendant had a score to settle.”

Defence lawyer Shane Cassidy said his client knew nothing about Robinson’s gun and was as surprised as everyone else when the shooting occurred. He described his client as having stopped others from getting hurt that night by escorting Robinson off the property after the shooting.

Cassidy also suggested his client was trying to serve as a mediator between Black Power and the Killer Beez over an alleged debt between the gangs. He was doing a favour for Robinson, whom he didn’t know well enough to realise what he was capable of, Cassidy said.

Huriwaka declined to testify during the trial.

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