A kidnapping charge against four men with alleged Black Power links has been dropped after the alleged victim had a sudden loss of memory at the Christchurch District Court trial.
He told the jury: “I was wasted as, and drunk on alcohol as well. All I can remember was really wanting to go to sleep.”
The Crown originally alleged that the victim was bashed and kicked hard enough to break a bone in his face, bound with tape, and held for hours by the four accused and about six others.
But the trial before Judge Tom Gilbert came to an early end today, when the Crown and defence agreed that the kidnap charge could be dropped, and then all four defendants pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally injuring the victim.
The trial was originally meant to last for up to two weeks, but after it had stuttering along with a clearly reluctant witness and delays for an ill lawyer, the jury was told what had happened and then sent home after two-and-a-half days.
Before the court were Robert James Beazley, 21, Enzed Norman Beazley, 23, Liam Teau Ariki Strickland, 19, and Jahmystic Raerae, 22, who were all remanded in custody for sentencing on November 3 after their guilty pleas.
All have already been in custody for long periods awaiting trial. Judge Gilbert remanded them for pre-sentence reports, including reports on their suitability for home detention but he said that was no indication of the likely sentence.
They all denied kidnapping and assault charges when the trial began on Monday, but it had to stop after opening addresses so that the victim could be brought to court.
Crown prosecutor Claire Boshier alleged in the opening that the victim had been attacked by the group over a drug debt, bound with tape, put into the boot of a car, and driven to another address in Havelock Street where he was held for several hours. His cheekbone was broken in the assault.
Many of those allegations have now disappeared, after the witness obviously became reluctant to give evidence and discussions took place between the lawyers.
The witness gave evidence from behind a screen so that the four defendants could not see him.
He said he had lived at an address in New Brighton where he knew the four men. “They were mates,” he explained.
The men were “gangsters,” he told the court. They were linked to Black Power, but “at the start they were real nice to me”. That apparently changed when a story went around about some missing methamphetamine.
The trial then moved on to the events of July 15, 2015, and the witness – after long pauses when Miss Boshier asked him questions – said: “I have tried to forget this so it is hard for me to remember. I can’t remember much, eh.”
He said it was more than a year ago, and “I can’t really remember.”
The trial then stopped for legal argument in closed court, and when the jury returned to court, the four defendants had all pleaded guilty to the injuring charges and the kidnapping charge had been dropped.
The summary of facts presented to the judge said the four defendants and about six others dragged the victim outside an address where he was punched and kicked and put in a vehicle to be taken to Havelock Street, Linwood.
He stayed in a bedroom for an unknown length of time and was “intermittently assaulted” by being punched and kicked. The assault was said to be over a drug debt.
He was then taken away in another car by three of the defendants, but it was stopped by the police. The victim gave a false name in the hope of being arrested so that he could get away from the defendants, a ploy that apparently worked.
He was left with numbness in his face, and the left side of his jaw and eye socket were sore. His left cheekbone was broken.
Judge Gilbert told the jury what had happened with the charges and thanked them for attending. “I apologise for having you waiting,” he said. “You saw (the victim) give evidence yesterday. Clearly he wasn’t particularly willing.”