18 Sep 2018

'His fear is retaliation' gang member's lawyer says

5:36 pm on 18 September 2018

Gang members in Whanganui are worried they will be targets of a rival gang if they lose name suppression in court.

Mongrel Mob patches

Mongrel Mob patches Photo: Supplied/ Jarrod Gilbert

Nine men have pleaded not guilty to charges relating to an investigation into the fatal shooting of Mongrel Mob member Kevin Ratana in Whanganui last month.

Ten defendants appeared before the Whanganui District Court today, facing charges of participating in a criminal group or organised crime.

Others faced extra charges including threatening to kill and cause grievous bodily harm as well as possessing firearms.

The public gallery in the courtroom packed out with supporters when a number of the defendants appeared before Judge Charles Blackie.

Many exchanged gang gestures and slogans with members of the public as they entered and left the dock.

Nine of the men pleaded not guilty to their charges, with most opting for a Judge alone trial in January.

One man did not enter a plea, and some of the charges will be considered in various case reviews next month.

A total of 12 men, between their 20s and 40s, have been charged in relation to the ongoing investigation.

Police investigation into Kevin Ratana's death continues

It comes exactly four weeks after Mr Ratana was shot dead outside his partners home in Castlecliff on 21 August.

The 27-year-old was a member of the Mongrel Mob and a father to two. The shooting is believed to have been carried out by a rival gang.

A homicide investigation is underway and police raids have been carried out, however four weeks on and no has been charged with murder.

Lawyers argued strongly to maintain interim name suppression of the defendants, claiming that they could be at risk from retaliation otherwise.

Defence lawyer Debbie Goodlet told the court that there are concerns and fears of retaliation.

"His fear is retaliation of him and his family by associates of the victim at Puriri St," she said.

Ms Goodlet said her defendant's family members had left town.

There was discussion about a potential increase in Mongrel Mob members in Castlecliff, which is known Black Power territory.

Defence lawyer Jamie Waugh said there was a risk of harm to the defendants if they lost name suppression.

The police were neutral on whether name suppression should continue and said they were not aware of any complaints by Black Power members relating to intimidation or receiving threats.

Judge Blackie extended the interim name suppression until next week Tuesday, when lawyers must provide evidence as to why suppression should remain.