15 Jun 2011

Pair found guilty in body in garage case

7:01 pm on 15 June 2011

Two men have been found guilty of murdering a fellow drug dealer with hammer blows to the head and dumping his body in a New Plymouth garage.

One alleged accomplice has been found not guilty.

Dean Browne, 38, was bludgeoned to death in a flat in Oriental Parade in Wellington on 21 January last year before his body was taken to New Plymouth.

After a five-week trial in the New Plymouth High Court, the jury took just four-and-a-half hours on Wednesday to find Mikhail Pandey-Johnson, 24, and Karl Nuku, 19, guilty of murder.

Eleven of the 12 jurors agreed to acquit 23-year-old Rhys Fournier of the charges of murder and manslaughter.

The trio comprised a small-scale drug-dealing gang called the Killer Clown Fiends.

The Crown accused Nuku of killing Mr Browne with Mr Fournier as back-up on the orders of their leader Pandey-Johnson.

The defence said the real murderer was the Crown's sole eyewitness who admitted to police that she injected Mr Browne with morphine after the attack.

Police have told the woman, who has interim name suppression, that she will not be charged over drug use and dealing, or helping to clean up after the killing.

Justice Woolford convicted Pandey-Johnson and Nuku and remanded them for sentencing on 29 July.