24 Jun 2019

Māngere shooting trial: Accused denies Comancheros promotion after shooting

8:34 pm on 24 June 2019

A man on trial for murdering a young father in Māngere last year has insisted he's not a liar.

Abraham Tuuheava from Manurewa, he was also known as Epalahame Tuuheava or "Hame".

Abraham Tu'uheava from Manurewa, he was also known as Epalahame Tuuheava or "Hame". Photo: Facebook

Fisilau Tapaevalu and Mesui Tufui are on trial in the High Court at Auckland accused of murdering Abraham Tu'uheava and trying to murder his wife.

Mr Tu'uheava was found dead and his wife Yolanda severely injured on Greenwood Road in the early morning on 1 May last year.

Over the past three weeks, the court has heard the shooting may have been a hit ordered by the Comancheros in Australia over bad blood between the gang and Mr Tu'uheava, a patched Nomads member.

Both Mr Tapaevalu and Mr Tufui deny the charges but have admitted they were with patched Comancheros member Villiami Taani, who has pleaded guilty to the charges, on the night in question.

Mr Tufui, identified by Ms Tu'uheava as one of the shooters, says it is a case of mistaken identity and he was never at Greenwood Road.

Mr Tapaevalu has said all three men were at the late night meeting but he fell asleep in the car and woke to gunshots the other men were responsible for.

Last week the jury watched a covert video of a Comancheros meet up where Mr Tapaevalu was promoted to a prospect at Panmure Basin eight days after the shooting.

Mr Tapaevalu told the jurors he had ceremoniously touched a set of rockers (gang insignia sewn onto a jacket) and shaken the hands of those in the group, but ultimately turned the promotion down.

His story has been scrutinised at length since he got on the stand to give evidence in his own defence.

Mr Tufui's lawyer, Paul Borich QC, has repeatedly suggested the defendant had played down the promotion to make himself look better.

Mr Borich: "So did we watch a turning down ceremony there?"

Mr Tapaevalu: "No. They all agreed to me being a prospect but I turned it down by giving [the rockers] back."

Mr Borich: "Can I suggest to you that you've been caught out in a lie and you're continuing to lie to us?"

Mr Tapaevalu: "No. I just don't understand."

Mr Borich: "You don't get offered a promotion for dozing off do you?"

Mr Tapaevalu: "It's not a promotion."

Mr Borich: "You don't get made a prospect for dozing off do you?"

Mr Tapaevalu: "I don't understand."

Mr Borich: "You really don't understand the question?"

Mr Tapaevalu: "I dozed off. I was stoned."

Mr Borich: "Yup. My question is that in the Comancheros if you doze off in the middle of a drug deal do you get made a prospect for doing that?"

Mr Tapaevalu told the court he did not know anything about Comancheros protocol and denied knowing that Taani - a cousin Mr Tapaevau has said he was close with - was a patched member.

It is the Crown's case that all three men worked together during the shooting at Greenwood Road: Taani the orchestrato; Mr Tapaevalu the lookout; Mr Tufui as a tag-along.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes began his closing address this afternoon by telling the jury the three men were "thick as thieves" and worked together that night to execute the shooting.

Mr Kayes said both the defendants had lied about crucial parts of the night because it was easier than telling the truth and incriminating themselves.

The trial before Justice Lang and a jury is expected finish within the week.