2 Dec 2023

Man accused of murdering James Whitikau Barton in Stoke appears in court

8:02 pm on 2 December 2023

By Tracy Neal, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald


There were tense scenes in the Nelson District Court on Friday as the man accused of murdering James Whitikau Barton made a first appearance after his recent arrest.

The accused, who has interim name suppression, appeared via video link, bedraggled and wearing a bright orange T-shirt. A woman yelled a threat from the public gallery before walking out.

She was among several of Barton's family members who were warned by Judge Robert Spear that he would clear the court if there was any misconduct.

A 30-year-old woman who was arrested overnight and charged with being an accessory after the fact to Barton's murder appeared in court this afternoon but was denied bail.

The woman entered no plea to the charge and was remanded in custody until 15 December.

The man accused of the murder, aged 33, entered no plea to a charge of murder by stabbing or cutting.

He pleaded not guilty to further charges of driving while under the influence of drugs, five charges of driving while disqualified for a third or subsequent time and four breaches of home detention.

On the murder charge, he was remanded in custody before an appearance in the High Court at Nelson on 15 December.

On the other matters, he was remanded until a case review hearing on 22 January.

He was arrested after police found a white BMW station wagon, which they had asked the public to help them find.

Barton, 48, was the victim of a "vicious assault" on the evening of 11 November, police said.

Police were called to an address in Orchard Street, Stoke, at 7pm and found Barton, known as Whiti, with critical injuries.

He was taken to hospital and died soon afterwards.

Detective Inspector Lex Bruning said at the time that he believed the people involved in the assault were known to Barton.

A scene examination at the Orchard Street property was completed soon afterwards and a second address in Motueka was also searched by forensic teams.

NZME understands Barton was a member of the Mongrel Mob. Photographs shared widely on social media show him wearing gang insignia and many tributes contain references to the Mongrel Mob.

This story was originally published by the New Zealand Herald.

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