16 Aug 2010

Gang members jailed over fatal stabbing

10:40 pm on 16 August 2010

A Black Power gang member will spend at least 17 years in jail for stabbing to death a Taranaki man whom a judge described as peaceable and with a bright future.

Three other gang members have been jailed on manslaughter charges.

Peri Niwa, a 31-year-old scaffolder, was killed in November 2008 after the Black Power members mistook him for a rival Mongrel Mob member.

Matiu Pahau, 23, admitted to inflicting a single stab-wound to Mr Niwa's chest, but claimed self-defence in a fight. He was later convicted of murder.

Justice Asher told the High Court in New Plymouth on Monday Mr Niwa was chased across an enclosed deck and murdered as he tried to get through a bedroom window.

The judge ruled that this counted as home invasion and sentenced Pahau to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 17 years.

In a victim impact statement Mr Niwa's family told the court that, earlier on the night he died, he had been wearing a Mongrel Mob T-shirt.

However, the family says Mr Niwa was not a gang member and the killing was slaughter without mercy while he was trying to run away.

During sentencing, Pahau made an apology, prompting Mr Niwa's mother and other relatives to walk out of the courtroom.

But Justice Asher told Pahau though his regret is sincere, he is not properly sorry, as he has not renounced gang violence.

"You do not regret - as you should - that you ever agreed to take part in this attack. You do not feel remorse for your involvement in a gang which accepts violent crime as part of its culture."

Three jailed on manslaughter charges

Three Black Power accomplices were sentenced on manslaughter charges in court on Monday.

Mahana Edmonds, whom Justice Asher described as the sergeant of the attack group, was sentenced to 14-and-a-half years' jail and must serve a minimum term of nine years.

Rangi Brown and Adrian Fenton were each sentenced to to 11 years, with a five-and- a-half year minimum.