Middlemore drop-off murder-accused on trial

  • 18/09/2017
Middlemore Hospital.
Middlemore Hospital. Photo credit: Auckland University

While gang members scrambled to get a badly beaten Clayton Ratima to a hospital, the two men accused of his murder sat in a central Auckland "gentlemen's club", prosecutors say.

By the time the 24-year was dropped off at Middlemore on a Sunday morning last year, he was brain-dead, Crown lawyer Yelena Yelavich told a jury on Monday.

Denis Solomon, 32, and a 33-year-old man with name suppression are on trial at the High Court at Auckland, accused of fatally beating Mr Ratima at the Tribesmen gang pad in Otara in February, 2016 and then leaving him unconscious on the ground outside.

Opening the prosecution case, Ms Yelavich said the accused, members of the well-known South Auckland gang, had jumped on Mr Ratima after another member had refused to fight him, aiming for his head.

It was not the first time gang members had targeted the prospect, who had been manning the gate at the clubhouse the night of his death, she said.

"They were determined to deal to Mr Ratima," she said, describing how the accused closed in on him and others heard "swearing, yelling and sounds of scuffling".

Ms Yelavich said the pair then departed to adult club Femme Fatale, leaving Mr Ratima bleeding from his brain on the ground for several hours.

It was other gang associates who later took him to the hospital in the back of a van, she said.

"[He had] no chance of survival."

Later, Solomon would try to get other members to take the blame for the fight, offering them money and a motorbike, the prosecutor said.

In a brief opening, defence lawyer Shane Tait asked the jurors to keep an open mind about Solomon and gangs, asking them not to buy into the "Paula Bennett syndrome" suggestion some people had fewer rights.

"What a load of rubbish," he said.

"No matter how unpopular you are within the community, everyone has the right to be judged equally."

The trial, set down for three weeks, continues.