A jury has rejected a Mongrel Mobster’s evidence that an unnamed associate had taken his car for a test drive at the time it was sighted at the scene of a home invasion robbery.
The Christchurch District Court jury returned four guilty verdicts against two men on trial after deliberating for 90 minutes and Judge Paul Kellar remanded both in custody for sentencing on November 20. He gave both of them a first strike warning.
Petuera Clarke, 32, gave evidence on the third day of the trial. Clarke and Levi Adam Bartlett, 31, both deny the aggravated robbery charge, and Clarke also denies charges of unlawful possession of a shotgun and ammunition.
Defence counsel signalled that they would seek cultural reports on the background of both men ahead of the sentencing.
Judge Kellar thanked the jury and said if he had been sitting as a judge-alone in the trial, he would have reached the same verdicts because the evidence had been overwhelming.
In its opening address to the jury on Monday, the Crown described the case against the men as “overwhelming” but defence counsel attacked elements of the evidence in their closing addresses.
The Crown said that two men armed with a hammer and shotgun, and wearing bandannas and Mongrel Mob patches had burst into a Sydenham house on the afternoon of June 4, 2019, and demanded drugs and money. There were no drugs or money there, but they beat a man with a hammer and took his his jacket, car keys, watch, and cellphone and left with a Sony speaker and laptop computer from the address.
A car leaving the scene was reported to the police who noted it was registered to Clarke who lived nearby in Huxley Street. They went to the house immediately and found the car in the garage, still warm and wet from the rain, with a shotgun and ammunition inside, and a laptop and speakers from the robbery inside the house.
Clarke gave evidence that he had been at home watching television that afternoon when an associate who wished to buy his car arrived and took it for a test drive. He arrived back and gave him a laptop and speakers as part payment for the car. He was going to return with the rest of the money.
He said he ran out the back of the property when the police arrived because he feared gang members were turning up, when he saw two men with guns go past the window.
His fingerprint was on the laptop because he had been given it by the associate who borrowed the car. He did not know the shotgun was in the car, he said.
Cross-examined by Crown prosecutor Sean Mallett, Clarke said he would not say the name of the associate, because that would be “narking”.
Donald Matthews, defence counsel for Bartlett, said descriptions of the robbers had been”quite vague” and there had been no reference to Bartlett’s distinctive facial tattoos.
For Clarke, Margaret Sewell said he had explained why his fingerprints were on the laptop – he had been given it by the associate. There had been no description that identified Clarke as being one of the home invaders. “If you look at the details (of the evidence), you will be left unsure,” she told the jury.