12 Jul 2017

Car boot death: Five guilty of manslaughter, kidnapping

6:41 pm on 12 July 2017

Five men have been found guilty of the manslaughter and kidnapping of a woman who fell from the boot of a moving car while bound and gagged.

Jindarat Prutsiriporn, 50, died from serious head injuries in March 2016, two days after she fell from the car.

Jindarat Prutsiriporn

Jindarat Prutsiriporn Photo: NZ Police

In a trial in the High Court in Auckland, five men were found guilty today. Seng Lek Liev, Apichart Korhomklang and Luigi Havea were found guilty of kidnapping and manslaughter, while Tafito Vaifale and Joseph Haurua, who had earlier pleaded guilty to kidnapping, were also found guilty of manslaughter.

They were found guilty this afternoon after the jury deliberated for two days.

A sixth man, Tevita Fangupo, who was also charged with kidnapping, has been cleared.

After hearing evidence totalling about 2500 pages, with input from 85 witnesses, the jury retired on Monday to decide the guilt of the six men.

The five men will now join five others who have already pleaded guilty to different combinations of kidnapping and manslaughter charges for sentencing.

The Crown's case

During the trial, prosecutor Gareth Kayes said Liev hired a group of Head Hunters gang members and associates, known as the Ghost Unit, to carry out a kidnapping.

Two weeks after a failed initial kidnapping attempt, Liev got his friends Sodarith Sao and Korhomklang to lure Ms Prutsiriporn to a car on the pretence of a drug deal, Mr Kayes said.

Prosecutors said she was driven to West Auckland, transferred to other cars and houses, before ending up in the car boot.

She had a knife stashed in some foam down the front of her trousers, and a sharpener - a chef's steel - which she used to try to open the boot, prosecutors said.

Mr Kayes said Sao drove off through the streets of Papatoetoe and was stopped at the lights on Huia Road, 20 hours after Ms Prutsiriporn was kidnapped, when she managed to jimmy the boot open, falling to the ground.