Second man charged over King Cobras murder

A second man, Daniel Gary French, has been charged with the murder of King Cobras gang member Luke Sears who was shot and killed at Charing Cross in October.

French was already in custody on remand on other charges when he was charged at the Christchurch District Court today.

Police security was high for the appearance in a separate courtroom. Groups of additional police were on the open walkway – the only access to the court – and outside the courtroom door. They were asking for everyone attending to identify themselves.

Six police or court escort staff were inside the court. Judge Stephen O’Driscoll allowed media to remain but closed the court so that all members of the public were required to leave. No-one other than court officials and a Victim Support staff member remained.

French is charged both as a principal offender and a party to the murder of Luke Thomas Reihana Mason Sears on October 13, 2018.

He is jointly charged with Alistair Cochrane, a 25-year-old man, who is already before the High  Court on a charge of murdering Sears, 28, who was also known as Luke Riddell. Cochrane is remanded for a call-over in the High Court on May 2. He denies the murder charge.

Crown prosecutor Will Taffs sought “joinder” – an application for the two men’s murder charges to be heard at the same trial which at present is set for February 2020. It had previously been scheduled to last three weeks, with just one defendant.

Sears was allegedly shot at a property in Grange Road, Charing Cross, Selwyn District, about 3.30pm on October 13.

French was arrested on other charges a few days later and has been held in custody since. His name was initially suppressed but was lifted, and an earlier appearance was marked by a brawl in the main Christchurch courtroom when gang members who had been seated in the public gallery charged the dock where French was standing.

Judge O’Driscoll remanded French in custody to appear in the High Court on May 10, and in the District Court on other charges, on the same date.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger asked for the remand without plea, and no bail application was made.