A high-ranking Mongrel Mob member has been sentenced to 19 months' jail for destroying a van used to kill a rival gang member.
Henare Raukokore Swinton was sentenced in the High Court in Rotorua on Friday after being found guilty in September for his involvement in suppressing evidence in the killing of Don Henry Turei Jr, a member of the Tribesmen gang.
The Aotearoa Mongrel Mob Rotorua chapter captain was charged with being an accessory after the fact to manslaughter after he helped fellow gang members burn a Honda Odyssey van used to kill the Tribesman.
Turei was killed on November 26, 2016, after being run off the road as he attempted to reach a family wedding reception at the Waihau Fishing Club on the East Coast.
The driver of the van, Porirua Mongrel Mob member Andre Robert Taiapa, is serving six years and four months in prison after admitting a charge of manslaughter.
A second man, Jared Renata Te Moana, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for setting the van on fire.
On the day Turei died, there were three significant events happening in the eastern Bay of Plenty area.
About 250 people attended a wedding ceremony at Raukokore Church, among them several Tribesmen gang members.
There was also a tangi in the area for a young woman, which several Porirua Mongrel Mob members attended, and an unveiling for a former captain of a local Mongrel Mob chapter.
Tensions came to a head on the day and a truce was called where the Tribesmen agreed to remove their patches when travelling in the area.
Turei was unaware of this and about 2.30pm, he and his brother rode past a Mongrel Mob pad wearing their colours.
Taiapa started chasing after Turei in a white Honda Odyssey filled with gang members. Taiapa caught up with Turei and rammed the back of his motorcycle, causing the rear wheel to become jammed under the front wheel of the Odyssey.
Turei ended up in a ditch outside the entrance to Pararaki Marae. He died a short time later, despite the efforts of a passing doctor.
As an accessory, Swinton's offending took place in the wake of Turei Jr's killing, the judge noted.
A jury found he "actively suppressed evidence against Mr Taiapa, by assisting in relocating and burning the Honda Odyssey vehicle" that was set fire to on the banks of the Raukokore River, sentencing notes state.
In sentencing, defence lawyer Jonathan Temm argued for a starting point of 12 to 15 months' imprisonment while the Crown recommended a higher range of 21 to 24 months, and then perhaps with another six months on top to reflect prior offending.
"Given your culpability is on a par with that of Mr Te Moana, I impose the same starting point of 21 months' imprisonment," Justice Pheroze Jagose stated.
"You also say you are a reluctant president of the Mongrel Mob Aotearoa, and you are really wanting to put your gang involvement behind you to spend time with your family.
"That may be a more recent phenomenon than was evident at trial, when your apprehended status and conduct appeared to contribute to trial difficulties."
Justice Jagose then allowed 10 per cent discount for personal factors – Swinton was now a qualified and employed fitter and welder after completing a four-year apprenticeship and since being released from jail in 2014 had one recent conviction for driving offences.
The judge did not impose a higher sentence based on Swinton's previous convictions dating back to 2002.
As Swinton did not plead guilty, he was not entitled to the additional discount Mr Te Moana received.
"Stepping back and looking at your entire criminal history, there is some indication of your personal and socially constructive progress. I urge you to maintain that, Mr Swinton."