26 Jul 2019

Two men found guilty of manslaughter, kidnapping

6:16 pm on 26 July 2019

Two men involved in the kidnapping and manslaughter of a Ngaruawahia man last July have been found guilty at the High Court in Hamilton.

 Mitchell Curtis Rehua Paterson.

Mitchell Paterson. Photo: Facebook/Mitchell Paterson

Twenty-six-year-old Mitchell Paterson died after being held in a choke-hold in the back of a car in Hamilton in July.

His body was later thrown off a bridge into the McLaren Falls in Bay of Plenty.

The jury of seven women and five men returned its verdicts after deliberating for four hours.

Leon Wilson, 49 and Christopher Smith, 34 were convicted of the kidnapping and manslaughter of Mr Paterson.

Wilson - a former gang leader - was also found guilty of conspiring to defeat the course of justice, but Smith - his brother-in-law - was found not guilty on that charge.

As Smith was being taken from the court his mother called out telling him she loved him and to stay safe. She then mouthed "sorry" to the family of Mitchell Paterson sitting on the other side of the public gallery.

A third defendant, Chloe Kerridge, was found guilty of kidnapping and conspiring to defeat justice.

The three will be sentenced on 6 September.

Wilson was given a final warning under the first strike law by Justice Davison.

Smith received his first warning.

Five other people earlier pleaded guilty for their part in Mr Paterson's death.