Jail term after fatal gang brawl

  • 16/07/2015
Jail term after fatal gang brawl

A 35-year-old who killed a man during a street brawl between gangs in Opotiki has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Tamaikoha Ruameke Takao was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua today after earlier admitting a charge of manslaughter.

Joe Collier, 22, was killed a brawl between Black Power and Mongrel Mob members in July last year when Takao's knife pierced his heart.

At Takao's sentencing, his lawyer, Roger Gowing, attempted to persuade Justice Murray Gilbert to lower the sentence but Justice Gilbert declined.

"You have taken a young life and I take into account the effect that has had on his family," the judge told Takao.

"Weapons were involved, they caused death ... this occurred during violence between rival gangs in which you fully participated."

He said Takao had been carrying a pole and a knife with its blade extended. The knife pierced Mr Collier below the neck, penetrating his chest. A post mortem examination revealed it had cut into a vein leading to his heart.

Mr Collier died after staggering to a nearby street.

The judge said Takao had gone to where the stabbing occurred after a woman called for help.

This was because Mongrel Mob members, with whom she shared a driveway, were partying and she feared for her safety and that of her infant.

When Takao arrived there was a confrontation between the gangs with both wielding baseball bats, metal poles, wood and garden tools.

Rocks and bottles were thrown and windows smashed.

Justice Gilbert said he accepted Takao had terminated his association with Black Power some years earlier but, despite this, had pitched into the clash between the two factions.

There were angry cries from the public gallery when the sentence was imposed with one woman yelling out "bullshit, bullshit".

Outside the court Mr Collier's mother, Tricia Collier, called Takao "a f***** coward".

"All you have to do is stab someone and say it was an accident," she said.

She and other whanau present said Mr Collier had not been a gang member and his death had cruelly robbed them of his presence in their lives.