A Taranaki courtroom erupted in Black Power gang cries and a roar of profanities as a senior member was found guilty of assaulting rival gang members.
At least five police officers were present in the New Plymouth District Courtroom while a number of others were dotted outside around the courthouse on Friday afternoon for the judgements in the trial of Donovan Taketake Hori.
When the forewoman told the court the jury had reached four unanimous guilty verdicts Hori spun around in the dock to face the packed gallery of supporters, raised his fists in the air and chanted the gang’s war cry.
His supporters responded, shouting back a chorus of the gang’s salutes. During the jury trial, which began on Thursday, Hori sat passively, dressed in a tidy shirt, as defense and the Crown delivered its evidence.
About two hours after the jury began its deliberations on Friday it was heard they had reached a verdict. Hori noticeably swaggered back into the courtroom dock, having changed into a plain black top. Following the judgements, half of the gallery quickly cleared out with many shouting profanities at the judge, jury and police officers.
Some remained to comfort a woman who was wailing in despair as Hori was led out of the courtroom. Judge Garry Barkle called for quiet before he addressed the jury. They were dismissed shortly after to a barrage of abuse from people still in the gallery.
During the trial, it was heard that on the day of the January 28, 2018 assaults Hori and six Black Power associates arrived at Waimate Hotel in Manaia, South Taranaki within minutes of three Rebels Motorcycle Club members sitting down for a drink.
Closed-circuit television footage showed Hori led the group towards the men, two of whom were wearing Rebels patches. They circled the trio and Hori, who was shirtless and displaying a tattooed Black Power patch on his back, knocked a can of coke from their table on to the floor.
A quick but violent attack on the three men followed, in which the security footage showed Hori punched two of the victims. The Rebels members made their way to the door and outside. The Black Power members followed and the assaults continued in the carpark before the trio jumped onto their motorcycles and rode off.
Despite Hori admitting to the assaults and security footage showing his role in the attack, he had pleaded not guilty to charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, participating in an organised criminal group and common assault.
Defence lawyer Paul Keegan argued Hori had been overcharged by the Crown. He said Hori and his associates had simply gone to the pub to move on Rebels gang members who were displaying “their racist confederate gang patches”.
The attack was spontaneous, he said. However, Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich alleged the attack on the men had been planned, and that Hori, “the commander”, had led the offending. The group was there to send a message that “Manaia is a Black Power town”, Marinovich claimed.
The men were arrested following a police investigation during which all parties, victims included, were identified in the CCTV footage. Hori’s six co-offenders pleaded guilty and have been convicted for their involvement. All three Rebels members were approached by police for statements but none were given, it was heard in court.
Hori is due to be sentenced on August 22.
Featured image: A senior Taranaki Black Power member has been found guilty on four charges relating to a violent assault on three Rebels Motorcycle Club members. (File photo)