Ri­val gang brawl rocks Toko­roa Court­house

South Waikato News - - Your Health - PHILLIPA YALDEN

Ten­sions be­tween ri­val gangs boiled over into a court­house brawl so vi­o­lent that staff had to lock them­selves in a back room.

The fight, which in­volved at least five peo­ple, shook the walls of the Toko­roa Court­house on Tues­day.

Four South Waikato men be­tween the ages of 17 and 48 have been ar­rested over the in­ci­dent, which broke out at 12.30pm, Bay of Plenty Po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Karl Kon­lech­ner said.

They have been charged with a range of of­fences, from dis­or­derly be­hav­iour to pos­ses­sion of an of­fen­sive weapon, he said.

"It was be­tween a young guy that was ap­pear­ing in court on other charges, with some gang af­fil­i­a­tions, and his fa­ther, ver­sus some as­so­ciates from a ri­val gang.

"That be­came phys­i­cal in the foyer of the court. Po­lice were called and four peo­ple were ar­rested."

Lawyer Maryanne Crapp told RNZ that a court reg­is­trar locked the court­room door to stop any­one in the pub­lic gallery from leav­ing.

Bang­ing, shout­ing and swear­ing could be heard through the door.

Other court staff were so fright­ened, they locked them­selves in the exit room at the back of the court, Pub­lic Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion spokes­woman Tracy Klen­ner told Ra­dio NZ.

"The vi­o­lence was of such a na­ture that there were peo­ple get­ting thrown about and it was enough to make the walls move about in the courts," the union rep for court per­son­nel said.

Po­lice con­firmed to RNZ in a state­ment that no of­fi­cers were at the court­house at the time, but they did re­spond quickly from the nearby sta­tion.

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