25 May 2023

Mama Hooch sexual assaults: Brothers convicted on dozens of charges named

1:01 pm on 25 May 2023
Christchurch District Court

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The names of two men found guilty on dozens of charges including rape, sexual violation, indecent assault and drink-spiking related to Christchurch's Mama Hooch bar, can now be revealed.

They are brothers Danny and Roberto Jaz.

Justice Eaton dismissed appeals to continue their name suppression today.

Danny used to managed Mama Hooch bar, while Roberto was a chef at a nearby restaurant.

Both repeatedly committed sexual assaults to varying degrees of severity while employed at these venues.

The brothers used their positions to drug victims by spiking or allowing others to spike their drinks.

They were then involved in raping, assaulting and filming the drugged victims - the majority of which were aged between 18 and 24 years old.

The Jaz brothers also discussed these acts in a WhatsApp group chat.

Detective Inspector Scott Anderson said the group offered an unfiltered view of the men's behaviour.

"A lot of it was very graphic. A lot of it talked about how they targeted the victims and the way they thought of some of the women they targeted was quite derogatory," he said.

Visual material, including an explicit video, were part of the content shared in the chat.

Police launched Operation Sinatra in July 2018 when two women told police they had been drugged and sexually assaulted when out celebrating a birthday at Mama Hooch.

Many further accounts of drugging young women at the two venues between 2015 and 2018 emerged over the course of the investigation.

The venues have since closed.

There were lengthy delays in the judicial process for legal and logistical reasons, and because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thirty women and two men were involved in the Christchurch District Court case, which took place over nine weeks earlier this year.

At the conclusion of the judge-alone trial, Judge Paul Mabey found Roberto Jaz guilty of several charges.

They included sexual violation, including one charge of rape, indecent assault, making intimate visual recordings, and possession of an objectionable image.

He was also found guilty of drink-spiking, attempted drink-spiking, one charge of male assaults female, and two charges of offering to supply Class B drugs.

Danny Jaz pled guilty to numerous sexual violation charges, including one of rape and indecent assault at the beginning of the trial.

Judge Mabey also found him guilty of charges related to drink-spiking and disabling, one charge of attempted drink-spiking and two charges of offering to supply a Class B drug.

Both will be sentenced on August 24 and 25.

Name suppression

The Jaz brothers' lawyers argued to continue their name suppression in Christchurch High Court.

Roberto Jaz argued a family member would suffer significantly if his name was to be published.

His lawyer sought to keep his suppression until sentencing.

But Justice Eaton said the situation did not meet the threshold for extreme hardship.

He also said the offending was "extremely serious" and engaged in "a high public interest" where open justice was favoured.

Danny Jaz applied to continue his name suppression to preserve his fair trial rights for an impending assault charge.

However, that charge was withdrawn this week, so Justice Eaton dismissed the bid for continued suppression.

Two other men charged in relation to the Jaz brothers have also appeared in court.

One was acquitted on all but a minor charge of drug supply.

The other was found not guilty of one sexual violation charge earlier this month.