Four sentenced over riot at funeral
Three Black Power members and an associate have been sentenced for their roles in a violent gang clash in Whakata¯ne during a funeral for a rival gang member.
The drama unfolded as a Mongrel Mob funeral procession for senior Kawerau mobster Tahu Kingi proceeded through the streets of Whakata¯ne township on January 17, 2017.
Ronald Taitapanui, earlier found guilty at a jury trial of one charge each of rioting and participating in an organised criminal group, has been jailed for three years and three months.
Justice Graham Lang told Taitapanui in the High Court at Tauranga on Thursday that given he was at the centre of the riot, and his prior convictions, a prison sentence was warranted.
The court heard that on learning about King’s funeral procession about 30 patched Black Power members congregated at Whakata¯ne Bridge to meet the rival gang members.
When the procession entered the town from a different route, Taitapanui and others gathered at various places to confront the mourners, including at a nearby service lane.
Taitapanui and others became involved in the all-out riot after some Black Power members threw rocks, sticks and bottles at the vehicles in the funeral procession.
Black Power members took exception to the Mongrel Mob mourners driving through “their territory”.
Shots were also fired in the direction of some of the mourners and seven Rotorua police officers who were trying to quell the violence, the court heard.
Black Power senior member Karaneihana Taipeti was jailed for five years in June after he admitted those firearm offences, and participating in an organised criminal group.
Justice Lang also sentenced Pairama Marou, who earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of rioting, to six months’ community detention, noting his involvement was relatively minor.
Lionel Te Riini, who also earlier admitted the same charge, was sentenced to six months’ home detention which is subject to a conditions.
Te Reneti Tarau, who was found guilty by a jury of charges of participating in an organised criminal group and rioting, was sentenced to six months’ home detention.
Justice Lang said he took into account Tarau was not a Black Power member and was reluctantly caught up in the events that day.
“I’m satisfied that while you handled one of the firearms brought to the scene of the incident, you did not exercise control over it,” he said.
Justice Lang said he also accepted Tarau had shown genuine remorse and was committed to staying away from his Black Power associates and rehabilitating himself.
Most of the others charged in relation to the riot were sentenced earlier. raft of rehabilitative
People at a working bee muck in at Tapuika pa¯ site in Te Puke, thanks to a community grant.
Three gang members and an associate were sentenced yesterday for their part in the violent riot.