Jail imposed for courtroom attack

A King Cobras gang member told police he rushed the dock when Daniel Gary French admitted firearms charges because “he killed my bro”.

Another gang member was in the public seating at the Christchurch District Court today when Marcus Moagutuuli appeared by video-link from the prison, and gave a “C” sign using his fingers – presumably for Cobras.

Moagutuuli, 26, admitted charges of assaulting French and resisting a policeman in the fracas in the main district court on November 15.

French’s arrest on firearms charges was associated with the fatal shooting of King Cobra gang member Luke Sears, also known as Luke Riddell, 28, near Charing Cross on October 13. Another man, who has name suppression, has been charged with his murder.

During the police inquiry, shotguns and cartridges were found in two vehicles and French later admitted unlawful possess of them, cultivating cannabis, theft, and selling cannabis. French was driving a vehicle on Grange Road where the shooting occurred, on the day of Sears’ killing.

When he appeared in court and pleaded guilty, three men rushed forward from the public seating and two of them struggled with police while the third lay on the floor.

Judge Paul Kellar said Moagutuuli was an active member of the King Cobras. He leapt over the desks occupied by lawyers and launched himself at the dock where French was standing.

He landed on the barrier at the side of the dock and tried to strike French before being tackled by police staff. Several officers were needed to get him under control.

“The object of your attention didn’t receive any injuries,” said Judge Kellar, who was told that the presiding judge on that day, Judge David Saunders, sentenced Moagutuuli to three months’ jail on the spot for contempt of court.

After his arrest, Moagutuuli told police he acted in the way he did because “he killed my bro”.

After submissions by defence counsel Craig Ruane suggesting a conviction and discharge, Judge Kellar said he was mindful that the other judge had already sentenced Moagutuuli.

“This is serious conduct,” he said. “There is no place for it in a courtroom.”

He jailed Moagutuuli for three months, which will run alongside his current term.

French, 35, has been remanded for sentencing on January 30, and the man charged with murder is remanded in custody to appear in the High Court on February 5.