Questions raised over killing

Memories of how his younger brother Peter died came flooding back for Gary Franklyn after learning the man who gunned him down execution-style was charged with a second murder.

Despite Joseph Russell Rewiri being behind bars since February 2008 serving a life sentence for murdering Peter "Porky" Franklyn in 2006, he and two other men were charged with the murder of Tauranga man Gary Kimura.

Mr Kimura, 44, who was assaulted at his home on October 5, 2011 suffered life-threatening injuries, including a fractured skull and died in Tauranga Hospital on November 16.

Rewiri, 45, Witeri Ahomiro Neketai, 35, from Te Puke and their associate Taonui Hiku, 27, had been on trial in Hamilton High Court facing one joint count of murder.

A jury on Monday found Neketai guilty of murder, while Hiku was acquitted on a reduced charge of manslaughter. Rewiri, aka Jody Rutledge, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on June 27 after the charge was reduced by Justice Tim Brewer following legal arguments.

From prison Rewiri enlisted Neketai to collect a drug debt from Mr Kimura.

When the deceased refused to pay, Neketai punched him. He hit his head on the concrete driveway as he fell and was kicked on the ground.

The jury also heard evidence about Rewiri's numerous text exchanges with Neketai, including his instruction to "hammer" Mr Kimura first before giving him a good talking to and, after the attack, Neketai texted Rewiri back saying: "Hes in a Coma cuzan jst for you."

Neketai speculated Mr Kimura "may be a veggie", and Rewiri's text replies showed he approved.

Mr Kimura's wife Rosina, who discovered her husband lying face down in a pool of blood after Neketai's attack, declined to comment.

On May 31, 2006 Rewiri shot Mr Franklyn in the groin, chest and head with a semi-automatic pistol in front of almost 20 passersby outside the Rotorua International Stadium.

Mr Franklyn died two days later.

His outraged older brother Gary Franklyn contacted the Bay of Plenty Times last year on learning of Rewiri being charged.

"When I found out I was blown away that he could have orchestrated this from jail. That's the big question. How the hell could he have orchestrated this when he is locked up in Paremoremo, which is supposed to be a maximum security prison. It just defies belief.

"Other people keep asking me the same question ... It probably doesn't take a rocket scientist to know how it can happen and there needs to be an inquiry given that he's in a maximum security prison which is supposed to have phone jammers and really tight visitor conditions and the like.

"But it doesn't surprise me, that is the type of person Jody is. He murdered my brother after making earlier threats when he got out he would finish off the job ... He's rotten to the core."

Mr Franklyn said his late brother used to buy and do up old cars and motorbikes to sell, which is how he met Rewiri and became close mates, until they fell out over a woman in 1999.

As a result Rewiri assaulted Mr Franklyn in a garage over several hours, extracting a taped conversation about the alleged affair that he called "Porky Unplugged" and played it to mutual acquaintances to humiliate his once-close mate.

Mr Franklyn never complained to police about the assault until the following year when Rewiri drove past his car firing shots at him, which missed.

The two incidents became the subject of a 2002 trial during which Mr Franklyn and his wife testified against Rewiri who was found guilty and jailed for four years, on top of the three years he was already serving for earlier firearm offences.

Then on May 31, 2006 after Rewiri's release from prison, the two men chanced upon each other driving along the same Rotorua road.

After a game of cat and mouse road chase the pair collided in front of Rotorua's International Stadium and Rewiri shot Mr Franklyn three times with a pistol.

Mr Franklyn said he had urged his late brother to stay away from Rewiri.

"I told Peter he was bad news, but my brother had a bad habit of liking everyone he met and he used to tell me not to judge a book by its cover. Unfortunately the guy turned out to be my brother's worst nightmare," he said.

Mr Franklyn said Jody had an extensive criminal history.

"I strongly believe even if Jody spent 30 years in jail when he comes out no matter how old he is he'll only do it again. They need to keep him behind bars and throw away the key ... The laws in this country are far too lenient, they need to be much tougher," he said.

Mr Franklyn said his late brother was no saint.

"But he did not deserve to die the way he did. He was a great father to his two daughters."

Mr Franklyn said he had grave concerns for his own safety and that of his immediate family.

"When I find out that Jody is getting out whenever it is I intend packing up and putting as much distance as I can from him," he said.

Rewiri and Neketai will be sentenced in the High Court at Hamilton on August 16.

Tauranga Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans said it was alarming to think a violent attack could be orchestrated from jail.

"It just belies belief that a convicted murderer can have access to the outside world and organise [an attack]," he said. "I understand the prisoners are not allowed to have cellphones they have searches to find them."

Prison security needed to be beefed up to find cellphones and pick up on any transmissions coming from inside the facility so illegal activity could be stopped before it happened, he said.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley told the Bay of Plenty Times she could not comment on the case as it was still before the courts but said Corrections was always looking at how it could stay one step ahead of prisoners.

"Corrections does everything within its powers to stop contraband, including cellphones, from coming into prisons. There are very strict searches in place for prison visitors and for any offenders returning to prison. On top of this, cellphone jamming technology is in use at our prisons," she said.

Joseph Russell Rewiri

  • Feb 2008: Sentenced to life imprisonment with 14 years non-parole for Peter Franklyn's murder.

  • Mar 2002: He had a further four years added to the three-year sentence he was already serving for firearm offences, for aggravated assault, injuring with intent and kidnapping of Mr Franklyn.

  • Rewiri also has past convictions for firearm offences.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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