Gang will argue to keep ‘colours’

The Crown wants gang members convicted of organised criminal group charges to forfeit $22,352 cash and their Rebels MC patched vests.

Prosecutor Claire Boshier pressed for the forfeitures as three of the group members were sentenced by Judge Tom Gilbert in the Christchurch District Court today.

But when defence counsel objected to the forfeiture orders, that issue had to be set down for half a day of legal argument on a date still to be set.

Judge Gilbert said $14,000 was found in the wheel well of a car where the driver said he had no knowledge of it. Another person might claim the cash was legitimately theirs, said the judge, “but it would take a fair bit of convincing”.

More money was found in a house the police searched. It was wrapped in a balaclava.

Miss Boshier ask for an order for drugs, firearms, ammunition and the gang vests – their colours – to be destroyed, but the judge said he knew of no jurisdiction that allowed him to order destruction of the clothing.

Miss Boshier said the law allowed forfeiture of any articles in respect of which the offence was committed. In this case, the drug dealing was committed for the profit and benefit of the gang.

The Crown is already holding the $22,352 cash, which was seized as an exhibit. Defence counsel said that they believed the clothing items should be returned.

The sentencing went ahead for three men, but two others are being dealt with separately.

Defence counsel Tony Garrett asked for leave to be granted for Baden Kenneth Clunie, 25,

to apply for home detention during his jail sentence on charges of being a member of an organised criminal group, and offering to supply methamphetamine and cannabis.

Judge Gilbert noted he was assessed as a high risk of reoffending, and had previous convictions for violence, drugs, and non-compliance with sentences. He jailed him for two years three months.

Mark Allan Powhiro, a 33-year-old bricklayer, of Avondale, said in a letter to the judge that he was now a new father and wanted to move on with his life, said defence counsel Anselm Williams.

Judge Gilbert said Powhiro had separately pleaded guilty to charges of breaching a community work sentence, breach of supervision, failing to answer his bail, receiving a stolen trailer, and driving while disqualified. He had five previous convictions for driving while disqualified.

The judge jailed him for two years eight months and disqualified him driving for a year.

Defence counsel Miranda Rout said Apirana Ropata Ngata, 24, had received a positive pre-sentence report and was suitable for a home detention sentence. The offending was seen as out of character and he had insight into the effects of his drug use – he now “maintained a healthy lifestyle”.

Judge Gilbert said Ngata, who admitted the criminal group charge, was in different circumstances to the others. He had referred himself to hospital twice to try to break his meth habit. He imposed nine months’ home detention with six months of post-detention conditions.

Ngata indicated he had no knowledge of the cash found in a car he was driving, and he did not wish to take part in the argument about any forfeiture of any items.

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