Comancheros trial: Defence calls Crown's theory 'slippery'

Pasilika Naufahu.
Pasilika Naufahu. Photo credit: Dan Cook / RNZ

By Katie Todd of RNZ

The lawyer representing Auckland Comanchero gang leader Pasilika Naufahu in the High Court has dismissed the Crown case as a theory, and its witnesses as "volatile" and "slippery".

The defence is giving its closing address in the four-week trial of Naufahu and Connor Clausen, who deny money laundering and conspiring to supply the class B drug pseudoephedrine.

A third person with name suppression denies money laundering.

Last week the case was abruptly pared down when two defendants had their charges largely dismissed - with the total number of charges dropping from 11 to four and the number of people on trial dropping from five to three.

Naufahu's lawyer Ron Mansfield said the jury had been unnecessarily "surrounded and smothering" in paper work that they now had to disregard.

"Relevant evidence, on the charges he faces, could have been heard within a week," he said.

Mansfield said police had thrown all the resources they could at monitoring Naufahu, after he made himself known that he was the president of the Auckland chapter of the Comancheros.

But he asserted the "seven or eight" undercover police following his client around had retrieved no direct evidence.

"They were looking for drugs, they were looking for cash, they were looking for anything they could find on termination that proved what they suspected - that this man was involved in New Zealand, or perhaps off shore, in drug dealing activities. Well their investigation, folks, revealed as much as that very diligent search of his home revealed: nothing," he said.

Earlier, the Crown put two witnesses up for cross examination, including one convicted of other charges, which it described as "the heart of the case".

Mansfield dismissed that witness as "self-serving"; only interested in minimising his own involvement.

"[He] was a false prophet who ... pedalled snake oil so much that the Crown slipped - more than once - in how it wanted to present Pasilika Naufahu to you," he said.

He urged jurors to put their prejudices about Nuafahu aside when it considered its verdicts.

"You could focus on the fact he is president of the Comancheros ... and you could, as a result, decide you don't like him. Surely you would understand that to be wrong, contrary to your oaths in this trial."