Mob­sters: Spir­its called us to dig up cof­fin

Waikato Times - - Front Page - Benn Bathgate [email protected]

Two se­nior patched Mon­grel Mob mem­bers were vis­ited by the spirit of Ja­son Lines – they claimed – and they had in­struc­tions for their as­so­ciates.

Go to the urupa where he had been buried that day, ex­hume the cof­fin, and bring it back to their lo­ca­tion.

The macabre events that un­folded on De­cem­ber 2, last year, reached a con­clu­sion at the Ro­torua Dis­trict Court yesterday when three of the men charged with im­prop­erly in­ter­fer­ing with Lines’ re­mains – Shan­non Api­rana, Ryan Ling­man and Se­bas­tian Wi­neera – were sen­tenced to com­mu­nity work for their roles in the at­tempted ex­huma­tion.

Lines was an as­so­ciate of the men and had drowned on Novem­ber 20, last year, af­ter his dinghy cap­sized near Waihi Beach.

The po­lice sum­mary of facts into the bizarre in­ci­dent out­lined how a drink­ing ses­sion with the de­fen­dants, mem­bers of the East­side gang and se­nior patched Mon­grel Mob mem­bers set in train the events that fol­lowed.

‘‘Two of those se­nior patched mem­bers told the de­fen­dants that they had been vis­ited by the de­ceased’s spirit,’’ the sum­mary said.

‘‘They fur­ther in­formed the de­fen­dants that they were re­quired to go to the urupa and ex­hume the cof­fin and bring it back to their lo­ca­tion.’’

The sum­mary said that while the men were told they had a choice in the mat­ter, ‘‘re­fus­ing to do as in­structed might re­sult in them be­ing as­saulted’’.

The three de­fen­dants and a fourth man, Rhys Philips – who pre­vi­ously pleaded guilty and re­ceived 120 hours’ com­mu­nity work – then took three shov­els and drove to the urupa.

Af­ter re­mov­ing pho­tos and flow­ers from the grave, they be­gan dig­ging. How­ever, one man re­fused.

‘‘The de­fen­dant Api­rana re­fused to dig as he was wor­ried about the tikanga im­pli­ca­tions of what the group was do­ing.’’

How­ever, what the four men were un­aware of was that mem­bers of Lines’ whanau had sus­pected an ex­huma­tion at­tempt and had alerted po­lice.

When of­fi­cers ar­rived at about 9.30pm, the group had dug about 1 me­tre down.

‘‘On see­ing the po­lice, the group pan­icked and fled.’’

They then failed to stop and a pur­suit took place, reach­ing speeds of 140kmh be­fore road spikes stopped the ve­hi­cle.

Only Philips of­fered any ex­pla­na­tion to the po­lice, cit­ing pres­sure from se­nior gang mem­bers. ‘‘He felt bad about what they were do­ing, but did not have much choice in the mat­ter.’’

When sen­tenc­ing the trio, Judge Tony Snell re­ferred to a vic­tim im­pact state­ment from the Lines’ whanau, where they ex­pressed ‘‘the huge amount of dis­tress you have caused the fam­ily’’.

He also re­ferred to re­marks made by Te Arawa el­ders, who slammed the men’s ac­tions as a breach of ‘‘ev­ery for­mal pro­to­col’’.

Snell was also crit­i­cal of their de­ci­sion to wait un­til the day of a pro­posed trial to al­ter their pleas to guilty.

He sen­tenced Api­rana and Ling­man to 180 hours’ com­mu­nity work, with Api­rana also dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing.

Wi­neera, who had com­mit­ted sev­eral other of­fences while on bail, in­clud­ing theft of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle, was sen­tenced to 10 months’ jail.

Snell told him that thanks to time served on re­mand, he could ex­pect to be re­leased in two weeks.

Two other men in­volved, Tiger Ross and Mau­rice Utu­taonga, were of­fered di­ver­sion for their guilty pleas at an ear­lier hear­ing.

Two youths, who can­not be named for le­gal rea­sons, had charges over their in­volve­ment dropped.

Ryan Ling­man

Se­bas­tian Wi­neera

Shan­non Api­rana

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