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Steven Taiatini death: Murder-accused granted interim name suppression

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Steven Taiatini was died in Ōpōtiki last year. Photo / NZME

A man charged with the murder of Mongrel Mob Barbarians president Steven Taiatini in Ōpōtiki last year has been granted name suppression.

Police allege Taiatini was fatally struck by a vehicle on St John St in the Eastern Bay of Plenty town following an altercation late on the evening of June 9.

A 50-year-old Ōpōtiki man appeared in Whakatāne District Court on Tuesday.

There was a large police presence at the courthouse for the man’s appearance and tensions were high in the public gallery.

Judge Paul Geoghegan adjourned the matter for 30 minutes to await the arrival of three members of Taiatini’s family.

The defendant was represented by lawyer Steven Lack, who applied for interim name suppression on his behalf.

Crown solicitor Anna Pollett said she did not oppose interim name suppression, but the Crown would oppose permanent name suppression and bail applications in future.

Name suppression was granted until the man’s next appearance, which will be at the High Court at Tauranga on April 17.

The man was previously charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in relation to the homicide. In light of the murder charge, the Crown withdrew that charge.

He faces four additional charges, including three counts of unlawfully possessing a firearm, and one charge of possessing methamphetamine for supply.

Pollett said the Crown did not seek to join these charges with the murder charge, and requested they remain in the District Court jurisdiction.

The defendant's next court appearance will be in Tauranga. Photo  / NZME
The defendant’s next court appearance will be in Tauranga. Photo / NZME

On these charges, Judge Geoghegan remanded him to appear at Tauranga District Court on March 28.

Three men are now before the courts on charges relating to Taiatini’s death.

The two other defendants facing charges relating to the ongoing homicide investigation are aged 19 and 41.

Whakatāne Beacon

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