14 Sep 2015

Fight escalated into 'something horrendous'

5:57 pm on 14 September 2015

The trial of a teenager accused of murdering a man by shooting at close range has heard that a fight escalated into something horrendous.

Two teenagers have gone on trial in the High Court in Hamilton.

Tyson-Tainui Rukuwai-Te Tomo, who is aged 17, is charged with the murder of Michael Thompson, aged 29, in the Hamilton suburb of Melville in February.

A second teenager, Mana Williams, aged 18, is accused of wounding with intent to injure.

Tyson-Tainui Rukuwai-Te Tomo

Tyson-Tainui Rukuwai-Te Tomo Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Tyson-Tainui Rukuwai-Te Tomo, 17, is charged with murdering Mr Thompson.

Mana Williams, 18, is accused of wounding with intent to injure, possession of an offensive weapon and threatening to kill.

Mana Williams

Mana Williams Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

He was also charged with threatening to kill and possessing an offensive weapon. He pleaded guilty to these two charges at the start of the trial this morning but maintains a not guilty plea to wounding with intent to injure.

The victim Mr Thompson and his friend Sam Apanui drove into Norrie Avenue in Melville in the early evening and we planning to deliver veges to family members.

They got into a verbal altercation with one of the accused, Mana Williams, who was at the house next door. Mr Apanui told him to go inside or he would get a hiding.

Mr Williams refused and ended up smashing a window of the men's car and lunging with a sword at Mr Thompson, slashing him on the arm.

Both men jumped out of the car and chased Mr Williams. Mr Apanui threw a bottle at him but it missed.

Mr Williams ran inside but a short time later came out with co-accused Tyson-Tainui Rukuwai-Te Tomo and both had knives and swords. They were thrown at the two men and they threw some of them back along with bricks and cobblestones.

At that point, the two accused went back inside and then they came out with Mr Rukuwai-Te Tomo carrying a gun.

A crowd had gathered on the road and were warning Mr Thompson and Mr Apanui that the two accused had a weapon.

Mr Thompson and Mr Apanui quickly made for the car. One shot was fired at Mr Apanui but it missed and seconds later another shot rang out and Mr Thompson was hit in the face and fell back onto the footpath.

He sustained a direct hit to his nose and the bullet went into his brain.

The two accused disappeared and Mr Apanui called 111 and started with CPR. Emergency services arrived but Mr Thompson died.

The lawyer for Mana Williams, Sharon Green told the jury in a brief statement that it was a tragedy and that it will be difficult for them to decipher just what happened particularly as it happened very quickly.

Mr Rukuwai-Te Tomo's lawyer Adam Couchman said his client admitted firing the gun, a point-22 calibre rifle, but that it was manslaughter not murder.

He suggested to the jury that the issue for them will be to understand the state of mind of his client and to step into his shoes to see events through his eyes.

There is a jury of seven men and five women and the trial is likely to take up to two weeks.