Māngere shooting trial: Jury retires in trial of two cousins accused of murder

11:54 am on 26 June 2019

The jury has retired for deliberations in the trial of two cousins accused of murdering a young father and trying to murder his wife.

The scene of a fatal shooting on Greenwood Road in Mangere.

The scene of a fatal shooting on Greenwood Road in Māngere. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Abraham Tu'uheava was shot dead and his wife severely injured on Greenwood Road in Māngere on 1 May last year.

Fisilau Tapaevalu, 32, and Mesui Tufui, 26, are on trial in the High Court at Auckland this month after pleading not guilty to murder and attempted murder.

A third man, Villiami Taani, also their cousin, has admitted the charges.

The court has heard the killing 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.

The Crown's case has been that all three men - Taani as the principal offender, Mr Tapaevalu and Mr Tufui - worked together to execute the killing and the two defendants are now lying about their involvement.

Mr Tapaevalu took the stand to give evidence in his own defence last week.

He told the court he and Mr Tufui were at the Greenwood Road meeting but he didn't know about a plan to hurt the Tu'uheavas and fell asleep in the car before waking up to gunshots, fired by his two cousins.

Mr Tufui maintains he was never at the Greenwood Road and it's a case of mistaken identity; Yolanda Tu'uheava having identified him as one of two shooters from a photo board.

Mrs Tu'uheava, who was shot twice in the head and still has a bullet lodged in her brain, gave evidence at the start of the trial but struggled to remember some parts of the shooting.

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

Abraham Tu'uheava. Photo: Facebook

She said her husband began communicating with the Comancheros when the couple moved to Auckland in 2017 after a stint in Sydney.

Mrs Tu'uheava had suspicions he was a drug dealer and had taken $48,000 cash in carry-on luggage on a flight to Dunedin shortly before his death.

She identified Taani as "the main guy" and Mr Tufui as the younger man who had guns at the Greenwood Road meeting.

This morning Justice Lang stressed the jury had to consider this identification with special care, given the shooting happened at night with poor visibility and was undoubtedly a traumatic event for the woman.

"She picked out Mr Taani and everyone agrees she was correct to do so. She also picked out Mr Tufui as the person she described as being the younger man. You need to know there have been mistaken identifications in the past and these have resulted in grave miscarriages of justice."

The extent of Mr Tapaevalu and Mr Tufui's involvement with the Comancheros has been disputed throughout the trial.

Last week the jury watched a covert video of a gang meet up at Panmure Basin on 9 May, eight days after the shooting.

At the meeting Mr Tapaevalue said he touched a set of 'rockers' (gang labels sewn onto the top and bottom of vests) and shook everyone's hands.

It's the Crown's case that this was a promotion in the gang for his involvement in the Greenwood Road shooting but Mr Tapevalu has strenuously denied this.

He told the court he was dealing methamphetamine with Taani, a patched Comancheros member, but he turned down the promotion from 'run around' to 'prospect' that day because he didn't want it.

Justice Lang said while drug dealing had made up a substantial part of the trial it only provided context for the alleged offending and wasn't a "linchpin" they could used to convict the defendants.

The jury of five women and six men have now retired to deliberate their verdicts.