Red Fox Tavern murder trial: Alleged killer practiced firing sawn-off shotgun a week before robbery, court hears

A court has heard one of men accused of murdering publican Chris Bush at Maramarua's Red Fox Tavern had practiced firing a sawn-off shotgun in the week before the robbery.

Mark Hoggart and his co-accused - a man known as 'W' - are standing trial more than 30 years since the infamous killing.

The court heard 'W' had been staying with his brother-in-law at a Vineyard in Hawke's Bay in 1987.

The brother-in-law who also has name suppression says 'W' asked him if he could fire a sawn-off shotgun on the property.

He told the court 'W' wanted to "see how it performed", so they fired a few rounds into a stump and a steel drawer.  

The crown says a week later on Labour weekend, the Red Fox Tavern was robbed, and publican Chris Bush fatally shot by two disguised men. One brandished a bat, and the other a sawn-off shotgun.

The court heard 'W' allegedly arrived back at the vineyard the morning after the robbery.

Giving evidence on Monday, his brother-in-law said 'W' looked tired, and after hearing about the robbery asked if he was involved. He said 'W' replied: "No, that's bloody lovely."

The court heard he later talked about getting rid of the sawn-off shotgun he'd fired at the vineyard.

Both 'W' and his co-accused Mark Hoggart deny their involvement, and say police have the wrong men.

The trial continues.