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Gang member sentenced for his part in fracas outside Wellington High Court

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Dylan Anderson has been jailed for 12 months for his part in a fight outside the Wellington High Court in February. Photo / Ethan Griffiths

A gang member involved in a brawl outside a courthouse has told a judge he wants to leave the gang.

Dylan James Anderson, 27, appeared for sentence in the Wellington District Court today after earlier admitting a charge of injuring with intent to injure.

On February 8, Anderson was at the Wellington High Court during the first appearance for three people charged in relation to the murder of Stokes Valley man Rawiri Wharerau.

Anderson was supporting members of the dead man’s family, while the victims were there to support the defendants.

As a defendant was taken back to the cells people in the public gallery yelled at the man, sparking the brawl, which briefly closed the court.

But the fracas continued outside the courthouse, resulting in the arrival of armed police who closed Molesworth Street directly outside Parliament.

According to the summary of facts, Anderson and his associates were outside the courthouse when they approached two men who were members of a rival gang. Anderson kicked one of the men, causing him to fall to the ground, before kicking him again in the head. The victim lost consciousness and suffered a concussion.

Anderson’s lawyer Hugo Porter said the attack was “a disgraceful piece of conduct, but it wasn’t extreme” lasting no more than 10 seconds.

He acknowledged his client had an extensive criminal history, but stressed this was his first time before the court in five years having finally achieved some stability through a relationship, a secure home, and he now had job prospects.

Porter described the offending as a regression, saying that emotions had run high, his client was under pressure to attend the court hearing, and while he didn’t want to, he was ordered to.

“Mob mentality prevailed,” he said.

He said Anderson – who has a large fist tattooed on each cheek – wanted to leave the Mangu Kaha gang, a splinter group of Black Power.

Sentencing Anderson, Judge Nicola Wills said the attack grew out of anger and frustration at a High Court trial, “it was gang members perpetuating an attack on another gang”.

She said the involvement of gang members was an aggravating factor, but she also took into account Anderson’s personal circumstances including a period of physical, sexual and emotional abuse from an early age, as well as time in state care. She also acknowledged the steps he had taken to change his lifestyle and in particular his wish to remove himself from his association with the gang.

But she rejected Porter’s application for home detention, which the police opposed citing Anderson’s history of domestic violence.

Instead, Judge Wills sentenced Anderson to 12 months in jail, granting him leave to apply for home detention should another address become available.

Catherine Hutton is an Open Justice reporter, based in Wellington. She has worked as a journalist for 20 years, including at the Waikato Times and RNZ. Most recently she was working as a media advisor at the Ministry of Justice.

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