7 Nov 2018

Chaotic scenes as seven accused of gang member Kevin Ratana murder appear in court

2:05 pm on 7 November 2018

There were cries of "sieg heil" and scuffles broke out when seven men accused of murdering Mongrel Mob member Kevin Ratana appeared in the High Court at Whanganui.

Mongrel Mob members from around the country, and even the Cook Islands, King Cobras and Rebels MC members were present at 27-year-old Kevin Ratana's tangi.

People gathering at Kevin Ratana's tangi in August. Photo: RNZ/Robin Martin

The 27-year-old father of two was shot and killed when he left his Gonville home to go to the gym on 21 August.

Only two of the men who appeared today made a plea. Each pleaded not guilty to murder.

The accused men then surged towards supporters of Mr Ratana, who were seated alongside friends and family of the defendants, making rival Black Power gang salutes and hurling abuse.

Mr Ratana's supporters, some wearing t-shirts commemorating his life, responded with cries of "sieg heil" and made dog-barking sounds.

There were chaotic scenes as police and security staff moved quickly to usher Mr Ratana's supporters out of the courtroom, while the defendants were also briefly removed.

Fighting spilled outside of the courtroom and police made a number of arrests.

A small group of patched Mongrel Mob members were stationed on the footpath outside the court.

Police and court security maintained a heavy presence in the area for about an hour after the court appearances.

Interim name suppression

The other five defendants who appeared today were not required to enter pleas.

Counsel for one of the men who did plea asked for an extension of interim name suppression because his client feared for the safety of his family.

He also applied for a bail hearing for this defendant which will be heard on 20 November.

The judge granted all the men interim name suppression and remanded them to reappear on the murder charge in February next year.

A total of about 12 men have been charged in relation with Mr Ratana's death.

They face charges ranging from murder, threatening to kill, unlawful possession of firearms to belonging to an organised criminal group.

Those men charged with the lesser offences are due to reappear in the district court on 30 November.

Mr Ratana's death sparked heightened gang tensions in Whanganui in August and extra police resources were called into the area, including the police Eagle helicopter.

Hundreds of Mongrel Mob members from around New Zealand, as well as patched King Cobras and Rebel MC gang members attended Mr Ratana's funeral at Parikino Marae on Whanganui River Rd on 27 August.